TOKYO (AP) — Leaders of Tokyo’s winning bid for the 2020 Olympics acknowledged Friday making payments to a firm in Singapore, but said the funds were for legitimate consulting fees and maintained that all bid activities were “fair and correct.”
In the months immediately before and after Tokyo was awarded the games in 2013, 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2 million) is thought to have been transferred in two segments from a bank in Japan to the account in Singapore of a company called Black Tidings, French prosecutors said Thursday. The transactions were marked “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game Bid.”
Ian Tan Tong Han is the holder of the Black Tidings account, which has been linked to the son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack.
“The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant’s fee paid to the service we received from Mr. Tan’s company,” former bid committee president Tsunekazu Takeda and director general Nobumuto Higuchi said in a statement on Friday. “It followed a full and proper contract and the monies were fully audited by Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC.”
Takeda, who now serves as the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, said the consultant services included planning for the bid, advice for international lobbying, and information and media analysis.
“The amounts paid were in our opinion proper and adequate for the services provided and gave no cause for suspicion at the time,” the statement said. “This message was conveyed to the IOC when these allegations first surfaced after a request for information from the IOC.”
The statement added: “The activity by the Tokyo bid committee was at all times fair and correct.”
Tokyo defeated Istanbul and Madrid in an International Olympic Committee vote in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
Black Tidings has earned a dubious reputation over the years.
It was used to transfer funds in the cover-up of a Russian doping case, according to a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation. And the sports marketing consultant identified by WADA as the account holder has been closely tied to the family that ruled track and field for 16 years via Diack.
As president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and member of the International Olympic Committee, Diack was one of the most influential men in sports. He is under investigation in France for suspected corruption, barred from leaving the country while the magistrates’ probe continues.
His son, former IAAF marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, is also wanted in France on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges, but is thought to be living in his native Senegal, out of reach of French magistrates. International police organization Interpol has put him on its “Red Notice” list of internationally wanted suspected criminals.
Mr. Tan is one of Papa Massata Diack’s very close friends. They were so close that Tan named his child, born in 2014, “Massata,” according to the WADA probe.
The Turkish Olympic Committee, meanwhile, issued a statement Friday disassociating itself from comments by one of its officials suggesting that the 2020 Games could be moved to London if Japan is found to have used bribery to get the games.
“These were the personal views of an individual and do not reflect the official views of the TOC,” the statement said. “Only the IOC can decide where the games are held.”
Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of the IOC voting. Madrid was eliminated on the first ballot.
The Turkish committee said it is “aware of the allegations made against Tokyo 2020 bid committee,” but the matter is being “fully investigated” by the IOC.
“It would be wrong to try and pre-judge the findings and any possible action that may follow,” the statement said. “The campaign for the 2020 Games is now over for Turkey.”
Possible wrongdoing involving Lamine Diack and the 2020 Olympic bid race was cited in a WADA-commissioned investigation of the IAAF. A footnote to a report by the WADA commission in January indicated that Diack was prepared to sell his vote in exchange for $5 million in sponsorship for the IAAF.
The report suggested that Diack dropped his support for Istanbul’s bid because Turkey refused to pay, and also indicated that the Japanese did pay.