Tokyo: Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), is set to resign amid a bribery scandal that investigators suspect helped Tokyo land next year’s Olympics.
Takeda announced Tuesday he will stand down when his term ends in June, but again denied corruption allegations against him. Takeda is also a powerful International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and the head of its marketing commission.
Takeda stated that it was his own decision to resign, and he is doing so in the interests of the future of the JOC.
“I would like to leave the future of the JOC to a younger generation to lead up to Tokyo 2020,” Takeda said during an executive board meeting here Tuesday. “At the end of my tenure in June, I am pulling out as JOC chairman and as a committee member.” His departure as head of the JOC will also end his terms at the IOC.
The favorite to replace Takeda is Yasuhiro Yamashita, a judo gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics.
The scandal has cast a shadow over next year’s Olympics and underlines flawed efforts by the IOC to clean up its bidding process. Japan is spending at least USD 20 billion to organise the Games, which open July 24, 2020.
Takeda has acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million in payments to a Singapore consulting company, ‘Black Tidings’, and its head Ian Tan Tong Han. French investigators have linked Black Tidings to Papa Massata Diack, one of the sons of powerful ex-IOC member Lamine Diack of Senegal.
Lamine had huge influence over Olympic voters in Africa. In 2013, IOC members voted for Tokyo, eliminating bids from Madrid and Istanbul.
Takeda however, has repeatedly said he was not involved in the decision-making process and had no reason to question what he termed a ‘regular commercial contact’ approved by others at the JOC.