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31 Jul, 2022 18:32

Ex-Tokyo 2020 board member received extra payments from Olympic sponsor

Haruyuki Takahashi insists he has done nothing wrong
Ex-Tokyo 2020 board member received extra payments from Olympic sponsor

A company operated by an ex-Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee member was paid over $1 million from a sponsor, AOKI Holdings Inc, in addition to payments made by the suit retailer that are already being investigated by Tokyo prosecutors according to Japanese media. 

The Nikkei business daily newspaper detailed how AOKI paid around 230 million Japanese yen ($1.7 million) to a subsidiary company of advertising agency Dentsu in 2017, which was then transferred to a company operated by former Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee board member Haruyuki Takahashi.

Though tens of millions of yen were transferred to a pair of sports organizations, Takahashi's firm kept the leftover 150 million yen ($1.1 million), the Nikkei claims.

The same outlet reported how Takahashi and ex-AOKI chairman Hironori Aoki insist there was nothing illegal about the money, with the Yomiuri newspaper putting the initial payment at 250 million yen ($1.9 million).

The Nikkei quoted a source explaining how Takahashi told Tokyo prosecutors the money was paid in exchange for consulting work he had carried out since 2009, as opposed to something he received while acting as an Organizing Committee Director. 

Last week, Japanese media showed prosecutors raiding Takahashi's home and the AOKI headquarters. According to reports, prosecutors were investigating suspected inappropriate payments of 45 million yen ($340,000) to Takahashi and are said to be receiving cooperation from advertising giant Dentsu.

Reuters approached Takahashi, AOKI, Dentsu and the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office for comment but has thus far not had any success.

In March 2020, Reuters reported how Takahashi received over $8 million in 2013 and 2014 from the Tokyo Olympic bid committee for undisclosed activities that he later told Reuters included lobbying members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

IOC chief Thomas Bach insisted those payments didn't break the organization's rules, and Takahashi also maintained there was nothing improper about the payments or the way he used them. 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were delayed by a year due to the pandemic, went ahead last summer to a backdrop of public discontent and protests in Japan.