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Politics

France brings corruption charges against Japan's Olympic chief

Tsunekazu Takeda led Tokyo's efforts to land 2020 Games

President of Japan's Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, has been indicted in France on corruption allegations.   © Kyodo

PARIS -- French authorities have brought corruption charges against the president of Japan's Olympic Committee in connection with Japan's bid for next year's Olympic Games, it was learned on Friday.

At issue is more than $2 million in payments made by the Japanese bidding committee to a Singaporean consultancy, Black Tidings, during the bidding for the 2020 Games.

"There was no misconduct that would qualify as bribery," Tsunekazu Takeda said in a statement issued Friday, arguing that Black Tidings "was justly compensated under a consulting contract."

Takeda acknowledged that he appeared for a hearing in front of a Paris judge in December, but denied that any new facts were uncovered in the process. "I will continue cooperating with investigations in order to dispel any suspicions," he said.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, a pretrial investigation was launched against Takeda, a 71-year-old retired equestrian.

French authorities have been looking into the matter since 2016, suspecting that some of the money was offered to members of the International Olympic Committee as bribes.

Istanbul and Madrid were also in the running for the 2020 Olympics.

The IOC is based in Lausanne.

The Japanese bidding committee has argued that the payments were legitimate consultants' fees. In 2017, Japanese prosecutors questioned Takeda at the request of French investigators.

A spokesman for the Japanese Olympic Committee said the group is aware of the legal action and is verifying the details.

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