Today: Jun 25, 2024

Tokyo Olympic bribery scandal rolls on; company apologizes

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TOKYO: A Japanese company embroiled in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic corruption scandal said Thursday it would strengthen oversight to prevent further wrongdoing.

Takeshi Natsuno, president of the Japanese entertainment company Kadokawa, bowed deeply with two other executives to show remorse in a news conference. He said the company “seriously betrayed public trust.” Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, the son of the founder, was arrested in September on suspicion of bribing Haruyuki Takahashi, a member of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, with 69 million yen ($480,000).

Kadokawa Group was chosen as an Olympic sponsor and published the Games program and guidebooks.

Takahashi is a former executive at the Japanese advertising company Dentsu, which played a key role in 2013 in landing the Olympics for Tokyo, and then became the Tokyo Games marketing arm.

Takahashi was arrested and released from jail after being held for about four months. Japanese media say he is denying the corruption charges.

He also faces bribery allegations in connection with several companies tied to the Tokyo Olympics: Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan’s Olympic team; Daiko Advertising Inc., ADK Marketing Solutions, and Sun Arrow, which produced the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots named Miraitowa and Someity.

Any trials are likely to be slow moving as the Japanese court process tends to be drawn out, and more than a dozen people are involved.

Prosecutors say Takahashi acted in ways to favor the companies with sponsorships and other benefits related to the Olympics in return for the bribes.

Prosecutors say, besides the bribery scandal, a separate probe is ongoing into bid-rigging and the choice of venues for Olympic test events.

The sprawling corruption allegations surrounding Tokyo have caused the bid by the northern Japanese city of Sapporo for the 2030 Winter Games to be placed “on hold.” Sapporo was considered the favorite for 2030, partially because of Japan’s reliability and heavy spending to hold the delayed Tokyo Games.

The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is reported to have Salt Lake City as the lone candidate to hold the 2030 Games.

Salt Lake organizers have said they would prefer 2034, not wanting to directly follow Los Angeles, which will hold the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The official price tag for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was $13 billion, although a government audit suggested real costs might be twice that much. About 60% of Tokyo Olympic spending was public money.

The Games were postponed for a year and held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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