New investigation rejects bribery allegations in Japan’s 2020 bid

Tokyo preparations for the 2020 Olympics. Photo: Flickr/Andrew Mager



By Natalia Ghincul
An independent investigation into a payment supposedly connected with Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics has not confirmed evidence of bribery.

A payment from the Tokyo 2020 bid committee to Singaporean consultancy firm Black Tidings has been suspected to be a bribe to secure votes for the Japanese bid.

According to Inside the Games, a payment  totaling $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.7 million) was made  the consulting company before Tokyo was granted the right to host the 2020 Olympics at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires. In competition for the 2020 Olympics Tokyo’s bid defeated those of Istanbul and Madrid.

According to Reuters, an independent investigation panel was commissioned by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and it concluded in its report that the payments made by Tokyo’s officials to Black Tiding were not a bribe. JOC President and IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda commented in May that the payment was regarded “necessary” by the Bid Committee. However, Reuters reports that the Tokyo bid team paid Black Tidings a consulting fee which is double the average it paid to other consultants and successful lobbyists.

The Singapore-based Black Tidings has been linked to Papa Massata Diack, former marketing consultant for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and son of former IAAF President, Lamine Diack, who was arrested in 2015 on corruption and money laundering charges. When Tokyo was elected as a host of the 2020 Olympics, Lamine Diack was a voting International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. According to Inside the Games, the independent investigation panel was probing whether the payment was a bribe for securing the support of the Senegalese and other members under Diack’s influence.

The lawyer Yoshihisa Hayakawa who headed the Japanese investigation commented: “I believe the suspicion of bribery by the bid team has been cleared”.

However, Yoshihisa Hayakawa admitted that the probe has certain limitations as the investigation panel was unable to interview the head of Black Tidings and the potentially involved Diacks. He concluded that the panel had “done all we can within our ability”.


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