Tokyo 2020 Says No Need For Takeda to Step Down

(ATR) Tokyo organizers reiterate Takeda will stay on Tokyo 2020 executive despite investigation by French authorities.

(ATR) Tokyo 2020 says Tsunekazu Takeda does not need to step down from his positions in the organizing committee, despite French investigators advancing an investigation into alleged bribery surrounding the city’s bid for the Olympics.

Takeda is a vice-president on the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board by virtue of being President of the Japanese Olympic Committee. He is an influential IOC member and was in charge of leading Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo was elected 2020 host city at the 2013 IOC Session in Buenos Aires. French authorities have been investigating a payment by the Tokyo bid committee to a consulting firm in Singapore during the bid. Authorities believe that the firm existed as a front to funnel money to disgraced IOC member Lamine Diack through his son Papa Massata Diack in exchange for votes from African IOC members.

"First of all the first thing I need to say is the fact that our organization was established after the bid was won, so we have no information whatsoever with the bidding process," Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 chief executive said at a news conference.

"It is our understanding that Japan presented a very great bid file and Tokyo’s bid was the best and that’s why we won the bid. That is our understanding."

Takeda has been defiant in proclaiming his innocence in the affair, despite French authorities advancing the case. He held a news conference earlier this month apologizing for the stain the investigation has brought on Tokyo 2020, but vowed to stay in his positions.

Muto said that Tokyo 2020 "cannot take action" against Takeda when he says he is innocent and that "we do not believe that this justified any action" in the present.

The IOC Ethics Commission heard from Takeda by video conference on the matter, but has not taken any decisions against the IOC member.

Tokyo is the second straight Olympics to be ensnared in the French investigation into Lamine Diack. Former IOC Member Carlos Nuzman from Brazil was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in late 2017 on suspicion of working with a local businessman to purchase votes ahead of the 2009 IOC Session. His trial is ongoing.

IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi, in town for a two day project review, said that the 2020 bid cycle took place before Agenda 2020 reforms were adopted by the IOC.

"Our rules have been modified and we are expecting the investigation to progress and at some point in time a judgment rendered," Dubi said. "The main point is this organization has evolved and keeps evolving."

"Modest" Tokyo Ahead of Curve

Dubi says that the IOC is leaving Tokyo after the latest project review confident in heat countermeasures and with a lot of work as Games preparations head to the operational stage.

A heat wave last year in Japan led to an increased investment and emphasis on countermeasures for the 2020 Olympics to protect athletes and spectators. So much was the investment, that it offset a number of cost reductions when calculating version three of the Tokyo 2020 budget.

Tokyo 2020 already changed start time for a number of outdoor events including the marathon, rugby sevens, and race walking, to mitigate heat concerns. Dubi says that plans discussed during this project review to combat the heat were "stunning".

"Mr. Muto is very modest. We have some experience in the past we had heat countermeasure in Athens and…but what they are doing here in terms of planning for heat countermeasure is stunning," Dubi said. "I feel only in Japan you would go to this level of detail.

"Every single detail is [being] looked at by the organizing committee. The feeling we had last summer was should the same conditions prevail, the OCOG is really ready to face such a situation."

Muto says that Tokyo 2020 is restructuring its organization to "shift from the planning to the readiness phase". That mindset must also extend beyond the organizing committee to all partners helping stage the Olympics.

"[The Tokyo Metropolitan Government] as well as the national government and local governments that will host venues at the executive level as well as the working level need to have close communication so that we can work together."

Written by Aaron Bauer with additional reporting by Hironori Hashimotoin Tokyo

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