Senegalese denies involvement in Japan Olympic chief scandal
TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Senegalese man at the center of a French corruption probe into the awarding of the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo has denied any wrongdoing.
“Mr. Takeda has never discussed such things with my father, never discussed anything like that with anybody that I know,” Papa Massata Diack, son of former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations Lamine Diack, said in a phone interview late Friday night with Kyodo News.
His statement came following the revelation that the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, has been under formal investigation by French prosecutors for suspected corruption in connection with Tokyo’s successful bid to host the Summer Games.
A day after the confirmation by French judicial authorities that they had launched the investigation, the International Olympic Committee on Saturday also started looking into the allegations against Takeda.
On Friday, Takeda, head of the JOC since 2001, acknowledged in a statement that he had been questioned by the French authorities in Paris in December, but he said there was “no unjust act that can be recognized as bribery has taken place.”
French investigators suspect that part of 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2 million) paid by the Tokyo Games’ bid committee to Singaporean consultancy firm Black Tidings in 2013 went to Massata Diack, whose father was a powerful IOC member at the time.
In the interview, Massata Diack said he only met Takeda twice in his life, the first time in 2009 in Berlin during the World Championships in Athletics and the last time in 2013 in Buenos Aires, when Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic Games, defeating Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of secret voting by the IOC.
The 53-year-old said he merely shook hands with Takeda in the first meeting and simply congratulated him on Tokyo’s success when he saw him for the second time.
Takeda, also an IOC member who heads the sports governing body’s marketing commission, has said the payment to the Singaporean firm was legitimate compensation based on a consultancy agreement and he will continue to cooperate with the French authorities to “dispel his suspicions.”
The JOC said that Takeda will hold a press conference on Tuesday in Tokyo.
Massata Diack, who is wanted by French law enforcement authorities, said Tokyo’s “victory was very clear” over Istanbul and it is nonsense to think that Japan had to pay money to collect votes.
As with his father, Massata Diack, who has been on Interpol’s wanted list on charges including complicity in receiving bribes and aggravated money laundering, is suspected of having been involved in covering up doping by Russian athletes.