TOKYO: Leaders of Tokyo’s 2020 bidding organisation to win Olympic Games host rights have sought to pass off a mystery payment of $1.48m, whose existence they first denied, as a consutancy fee.
French police are investigating the payment to the account of the son of Lamine Diack, the disgraced ex-IAAF president.
Confusion has circulated around the financial affairs of the departed Senegalese head of the world athletics body ever since corruption allegations exploded last autumn.
Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee member between 1999 and 2013, the year Tokyo was awarded the Games after beating off competition from Istanbul and Madrid.
According to reports in Paris and London the suspicious payment was allegedly made to a Singaporean bank account named Black Tidings which is linked to Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack. He had been employed by the IAAF as a marketing consultant but has since been banned for life.
Dentsu, the Japanese marketing and advertising giant, had been linked to the Diack family through a long-running commercial partnership.
A report in The Guardian said Ian Tan Tong Han, reportedly a consultant to a Dentsu subsidiary Athlete Management and Services, was a friend of Papa Massata Diack and the holder of the Black Tidings account.
In a joint rebuttal statement, Tsunekazu Takeda and Nobumoto Higuchi said: “The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant’s fee paid to the service we received from Mr.Tan’s company. It followed a full and proper contract and the monies were fully audited by Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC.
“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; advices for international lobbying communications; and service for information and media analysis. All these services were properly contracted using accepted business practices.”
“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. Furthermore, the amounts paid were in our opinion proper and adequate for the services provided and gave no cause for suspicion at the time.”
Tokyo’s Olympic organizers have had problems aplenty already with the reworking of the main stadium stadium and the need to revisit the logo designs after a plagiarism complaint.
The latest reports represent double trouble for IOC president Thomas Bach. He has boasted widely and publicly of how other sports – notably football’s FIFA as well as the IAAF – should emulate the good governance example of his own organisation.