In a new twist to events, a formal investigation has exonerated Japanese officials from charges of bribery regarding Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 summer Olympics. Earlier in May, it was revealed that French prosecutors were investigating the 2.8 million Singapore dollar (1.8 million euros, $2 million) payment to a Singapore-based consultancy.
Thereafter, the Japanese Olympic Committee set up an investigative panel of three lawyers to look into the payment. The payment, incidentally, has been linked disgraced ex-world athletics chief Lamine Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack.
Diack senior was an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the time. His son, however, has denied receiving the money.
“The investigation concludes that (the bid committee’s deals) are not in violation of any of the laws of Japan,” the panel’s report said. “In addition, the investigation team concludes that it does not form any crime under the penal code of France, and furthermore, that no violation of the IOC code of ethics can be found.”
The report continued, “In addition, the investigation team concludes that it does not form any crime under the penal code of France, and furthermore, that no violation of the IOC code of ethics can be found.”
Japanese officials have consistently denied wrongdoing and have insisited that the payment was for consulting services related to the bid.
“What was most important for the team was to probe whether the bid committee in fact bribed someone,” said Yoshihisa Hayakawa, the lawyer who led the investigation. “We think the investigation cleared the group of any suspicion in this regard.”
The money had been sent in two tranches to the now-defunct, Singapore-based Black Tidings company, either side of the International Olympic Committee vote which awarded Tokyo the 2020 Games. Black Tidings had been headed by consultant Ian Tan Tong Han, an associate of Papa Massata Diack since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
At the same time, Hayakawa stressed the probe’s limitations and its inability to interview key people. Incidentally, the Diacks have not been interviewed neither has the head of the now defunct consulting company.
“As a team without authority for compulsory investigation, we have done all we can within our ability,” Hayakawa continued.