Tokyo 2020 bid leaders say payments were above board

Reuters News
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Posted: May 13, 2016 5:23 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Payments made by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics bid committee that have been questioned in media reports were legitimate consultant's fees and were checked by auditors, two Japanese officials who led the successful bid said on Friday.

The Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday the Tokyo bid team had made payments totalling more than $2 million to a Singapore bank account it said was linked to Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former international athletics chief President Lamine Diack.

In a statement, bidding committee ex-president Tsunekazu Takeda and ex-director general Nobumoto Higuchi said: "The Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee can confirm that it paid an amount for the professional services received for the following consultation work including; the planning of the bid; tutoring on presentation practice; advice for international lobbying communications; and service for information and media analysis.

"All these services were properly contracted using accepted business practices."

Diack senior is under a French police investigation for corruption at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) during his time as president. His son, believed to be in Senegal, declined to comment to the Guardian because of the investigation, the paper reported.

The Singapore account where the money was allegedly deposited was controlled by Ian Tan Tong Han, a friend of the younger Diack.

"The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant’s fee paid to the service we received from Mr. Tan’s company," Takeda and Higuchi said.

"It followed a full and proper contract and the monies were fully audited by Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC."

Takeda is currently a vice president of the Tokyo 2020 Games organisation and the president of Japan's Olympic Committee, as well as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

"The firm contracted for this work had good credentials and references and were experts on Asian and Arabic and we were fully satisfied with the service we received from them," Takeda and Higuchi said.

"Furthermore, the amounts paid were in our opinion proper and adequate for the services provided and gave no cause for suspicion at the time."

Hikariko Ono, spokeswoman for the Tokyo 2020 Games Organising Committee, which is different from the bid committee that won the right to host the Olympics back in 2013, said on Thursday the committee believed Tokyo won because it presented the best bid.

The IOC has said it has been in touch with French magistrates who are investigating the IAAF case involving Diack and his son and are also looking into the specific payments.

An IOC spokesman said the group's ethics and compliance officer would continue to be in contact with French authorities to clarify any alleged improper conduct, while French prosecutors declined to comment.

(reporting by Linda Sieg, writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)