A Japanese daily newspaper has reported that the ex-chairman of Tokyo 2020 Olympics sponsor Aoki Holdings, Hironori Aoki, confessed to prosecutors that he handed over 2 million yen ($14,300) in cash to the head of the competition’s organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori.
Along with ex-member of the Tokyo 2020 board Haruyaki Takahashi and two other executives, Aoki was arrested in August for suspected bribery.
According to the Sankei daily newspaper via Reuters, a person close to the matter explained how Aoki told investigators that he gave Mori the cash across two meetings while Mori was the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s head.
Mori was Japan’s prime minister for just over a year from 2000 to 2001, but he headed the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee from early 2014 until February last year, when he was forced to leave his post due to a controversy started by saying that women talk too much.
In 2020, Reuters reported that a non-profit run by Mori, a powerful figure in Japan’s sporting landscape, received over $1 million from the Tokyo Olympic bidding committee during the campaign to win the Games’ hosting rights, which Takahashi also played a central part in.
The non-profit disbanded in December 2020, according to its website, but a staff member with the institute explained to Reuters that the money was used to hire an American consulting firm and a further two consultants to support the hosting bid.
Later on, Mori said that he wasn’t directly involved in the finances of the non-profit and was unaware about the money.
As for Takahashi, it is claimed that he was paid more than $1 million by Aoki Holdings in addition to payments made by the fashion product giants that were already being looked into by Tokyo prosecutors.
Ex-Tokyo 2020 board member received extra payments from Olympic sponsor
Protesting their innocence, Takahashi and Aoki have insisted that there was nothing illegal about the money.
Also in 2020, Reuters claimed that Takahashi was paid over $8 million from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics bid committee for undisclosed activities in 2013 and 2014.
When approached by Reuters, Takahashi told them that these activities included lobbying International Olympic Committee (IOC) members. The organization’s president, Thomas Bach, has also insisted that the payments didn’t break IOC rules.