Tokyo Olympics exec arrested over bribery allegations

AFP , Wednesday 17 Aug 2022

A board member for the Tokyo Olympics was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of taking bribes, prosecutors said, along with three other men connected to the scandal.

 Haruyuki Takahashi
This file photo taken on March 30, 2020 shows Haruyuki Takahashi, executive board member for the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020). AFP

Haruyuki Takahashi allegedly received $380,000 from high-street business suit retailer Aoki Holdings, an official partner of last year's pandemic-delayed 2020 Games.

The 78-year-old was arrested along with Aoki chairman Hironori Aoki, 83, and two other executives from the retailer, according to Tokyo Prosecutors Office documents seen by AFP.

They accuse Takahashi of accepting bribes "with the understanding they were meant as thank-you money for the beneficial and preferential treatment" he bestowed on Aoki.

According to the prosecutors, Takahashi had a total of 51 million yen ($380,000 at today's rates) transferred to the bank account of a company he runs, in more than 50 transactions between October 2017 and March 2022.

The arrests came after Takahashi's Tokyo home was raided last month by investigators, according to Japanese media, with searches also conducted at the Aoki chairman's home and the disbanded Tokyo 2020 organising committee office.

Takahashi, a former executive at Japan's biggest advertising agency, Dentsu, served on the Tokyo 2020 board from June 2014.

During that time he was reportedly considered a quasi-civil servant who was not permitted to accept money or gifts related to his position.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee wound down operations last month, but it maintains a presence to deal with assets and liabilities.

The Tokyo Olympics were held in 2021 after an unprecedented one-year delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Stadiums were largely empty with fans banned over surging virus infections in Japan.

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