Report: Tokyo Olympic board member under investigation

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TOKYO — Prosecutors raided the home of former Tokyo Olympics organizing committee executive committee member Haruyuki Takahashi on Tuesday in connection with payments made to him by an Olympic sponsor of the Tokyo Games, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

Kyodo said Takahashi allegedly received about 45 million yen ($330,000) from clothing retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. Kyodo said Aoki’s Olympic sponsorship was announced about a year after the reported payments.

Takahashi was a member of the executive board of the Tokyo Olympics and Kyodo said as a quasi-civil servant, accepting money or gifts could constitute a bribe.

The Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee was dissolved on June 30. The year-delayed Tokyo Olympics opened on July 23, 2021. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government held a ceremony at the $1.4 billion National Stadium to mark the anniversary.

Aoki reportedly provided uniforms for the Olympics and sold licensed merchandise bearing the Olympic logo.

Takahashi was closely linked to the Tokyo Games.

He reportedly received millions of dollars from the Tokyo bid committee for his lobbying work with members of the International Olympic Committee when Tokyo was chosen in 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, ahead of Madrid and Istanbul.

He said there was nothing improper about the payments and denied any wrongdoing.

Takahashi is a former employee of the giant Japanese advertising agency Dentsu, Inc., which is credited with helping Tokyo win the Olympics. Dentsu was the exclusive marketing agency for the Tokyo Olympics and played a pivotal role in achieving a record over $3 billion in domestic sponsorship deals.

The Tokyo Games, which officially cost $13 billion, were littered with problems before the pandemic hit.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the former president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, resigned in 2019 after being linked to an investigation into bribes allegedly paid to IOC members during the 2013 vote.

Yoshiro Mori, the chairman of the Tokyo organizing committee, was forced to resign five months before the opening of the Olympics after making demeaning remarks about women.

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