TOKYO (AP) — The bribery scandal linked to the Tokyo Olympics won’t go away, tarnishing the organizing committee’s legacy as Japan remains in talks with the International Olympic Committee to bring in the 2030 Winter Olympics for Sapporo .
On Wednesday, a former advertising executive at the center of a escalating Olympic sponsorship scandal was arrested for the fourth time on suspicion of taking bribes; this time from a Japanese advertising company ADK Marketing Solutions.
According to Japanese media, prosecutors raided the offices of ADK and Tokyo-based puppet maker Sun Arrow, which produced the Olympic and Paralympic mascots Miraitowa and Someity in Tokyo.
Haruyuki Takahashi has been arrested and re-arrested and previously charged with taking bribes from officials of three other companies: Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed the Japanese Olympic team; major Japanese publisher and entertainment company Kadokawa and Daiko Advertising Inc.
Takahashi has been in jail since August.
Takahashi is a former executive at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu, which helped land the Games for Tokyo and subsequently brought in a record domestic sponsorship of more than $3 billion. This was at least twice as much as all previous Olympics.
French prosecutors are investigating allegations that some IOC members may have been bribed to vote for Tokyo when the city was elected in 2013.
That scandal three years ago forced the resignation of the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee Tsunekazu Takeda, who was also a member of the IOC.
The Swiss-based IOC has tried to distance itself from the scandal. IOC President Thomas Bach did not attend a celebration at Tokyo’s National Stadium last weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of the Olympic Games that have been postponed for a year. He said he had a scheduling conflict.
“We have full confidence in the Japanese authorities and also in the auditors of the organizing committee,” the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The IOC has a vested interest in fully clarifying this matter.”
The Olympics are constantly plagued by money scandals. Carlos Nuzman, IOC member and head of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, was arrested after those Games on charges of corruption.
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were tainted by a doping scandal, and a bribery scandal also overshadowed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Japan has officially spent $13 billion to host the Olympics, much of it public money.
Japan is now aiming for the 2030 Winter Olympics, which it says will cost $2.6 billion. Officials in Sapporo have refused to hold a public referendum with divided opinion in the northern Japanese region.
The bribes reportedly going to Takahashi now total more than 190 million yen ($1.2 million).
Tagging additional charges, leaving a suspect in custody, is known as “hostage law” and is widely criticized, but a common practice in Japan. But being arrested for the fourth time is unusual, even for Japan.
Takahashi could not be reached for comment. He was not eligible for bail.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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