EDITORIAL: Latest Olympic bribery scandal marks legacy of costly event

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A former board member of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee arrested over corruption allegations may have committed the shameless act of using the celebration of peace to enrich his own nest.

We demand that law enforcement authorities shed light on the facts.

The Tokyo District Procuratorate announced on August 17 that it had arrested Haruyuki Takahashi, who was a member of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Executive Council, on suspicion of accepting bribes from a company .

Takahashi is accused of receiving a total of 51 million yen ($378,150) in bribes from Aoki Holdings Inc., a professional clothing company, in exchange for the help she contributed to obtaining a sponsorship contract and the right to sell branded Olympic products.

Takahashi, who previously served as senior managing director at advertising giant Dentsu Inc., served on the Olympic board in 2014.

In the fall of 2017, a company headed by Takahashi signed a consulting contract with Aoki. Takahashi reportedly told investigators that the money he received from Aoki was a contract-based fee and had nothing to do with the Olympics.

Prosecutors also arrested Hironori Aoki, Aoki’s founder and former chairman, and two other former and current Aoki executives. They allegedly hatched plans to bribe Takahashi to help the company get what it wanted. Prosecutors seized related documents.

It is necessary to find out all the facts about Olympic activity, including how Dentsu was involved in the process of selecting corporate sponsors and approving sales of official merchandise.

If the allegations are true, the organizing committee should also be held responsible for failing to detect the collusive links between Takahashi and Aoki.

The committee collected a record 370 billion yen in contributions for the Tokyo Olympics from domestic companies. The committee was disbanded in June and now a liquidation company is winding up the business.

The company in liquidation released a statement saying, “We are very surprised” at the arrests. But it should not be allowed to react to these developments as if it had nothing to do with them.

The Liquidating Entity shall work with Tokyo, the Host City, and other relevant organizations to review sponsorship contracts and official property sales involving other companies for any violations or wrongdoing.

The Olympics are big-budget events that tend to breed corruption. Tsunekazu Takeda, who served as president of the Japanese Olympic Committee until 2019, reportedly paid bribes to help Tokyo win the bid to host the 2020 Games.

But the JOC has only cursorily investigated the allegations and is now concerned about backing Sapporo’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Games.

It is not surprising that public support for the candidacy remains weak given that it is promoted by an organization that does not sincerely answer the questions and doubts of the population and does not want to take responsibility for the scandals involving its members.

The International Olympic Committee Code of Ethics states that “Olympic parties or their representatives shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit, accept or offer any form of remuneration or commission, or any hidden advantage or service of any kind. , in connection with the Olympic Games. .”

The Tokyo Olympics, which were staged with strength despite the COVID-19 pandemic, underscored the reality that fundamental principles of the Olympic movement such as respect for human dignity, opposition to discrimination and good governance of the organizations involved were ousted.

The latest arrests have added another piece of evidence of the grim reality of the movement.

–The Asahi Shimbun, August 18


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