Japanese Olympic Committee head resigns amid bribery scandal

Tsunekazu Takeda
AP
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TOKYO — Tsunekazu Takeda is stepping down as the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee amid a vote-buying scandal that French investigators suspect helped Tokyo land next year’s Olympics.

Takeda announced Tuesday at the committee’s executive board meeting that he will resign when his term ends in June, and he again denied corruption allegations against him.

The 71-year-old Takeda is also an International Olympic Committee member and the head of its marketing commission. When he resigns, he will lose the IOC membership which is tied to his JOC presidency.

“I have not done anything wrong,” he said. “I will continue to do my best to clear my name.”

He said it was his own decision, although several months ago he denied he intended to step aside. But pressure has mounted with the games getting closer and the IOC wanting to distance itself from another scandal.

“I am sorry I have upset the society ahead of the Tokyo Olympics,” he said, speaking to about 100 reporters in the JOC’s small boardroom. “I feel bad about that.”

Takeda has 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.

“The IOC takes note with the greatest respect of the decision taken by Mr. Takeda to resign as an IOC Member,” the Olympic body said in a statement. “Our respect of this decision is even greater because he took this step to protect the Olympic Movement while the presumption of innocence, on which the IOC insists, continues to prevail.”