— Published 2 August 2022

In Tokyo, an Olympic legacy with the smell of corruption

Curious anniversary. At the time when Japan should analyze and measure the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games (July 23 to August 8, 2021), one year after the event, the post-Olympic news in the archipelago continues to be cluttered by business.

In the center of the file, Haruyuki Takahashi (photo above). The former boss of the Dentsu group, member of the board of directors of the former organizing committee of the Tokyo Games (it was dissolved in June), is suspected of corruption. He would have received through his consulting firm the sum of 45 million yen (about 340,000 dollars), since the year 2017 until July 2021, from one of the many sponsors of the Games, the brand of suits Aoki.

The facts are known. Their revelation goes back to last month. Last week, a search was conducted at the request of the prosecutor at the home of Haruyuki Takahashi. The former president and founder of Aoki Holdings, Hironori Aoki, who is now retired, was also questioned by investigators. His home was also searched.

Haruyuki Takahashi does not deny having received the sum of 45 million yen via his consulting firm. But he assures that these successive payments had no direct relationship with the Tokyo Olympics, nor with his position as a member of the board of directors of Tokyo 2020.

Aoki had been on the long list of national partners of the Tokyo 2020 Games since October 2018, as an official supporter, the third level of the national marketing program. In the bidding phase, the brand had dressed the Tokyo 2020 delegation at the IOC session in Buenos Aires in September 2013, where the Japanese capital took the cake. According to its own figures, Aoki sold more than 30,000 suits from its collection in the colors of Tokyo 2020.

The Kyodo News agency reveals today that the financial relationship between Aoki and Haruyuki Takahashi would in fact involve a sum much higher than the 45 million yen initially mentioned. Citing several anonymous sources, the Japanese agency explains that the clothing brand would have also paid about 230 million yen (1.7 million dollars) to Haruyuki Takahashi as part of its Olympic partnership program.

The former Dentsu executive was supposed to donate it to athletes or groups of athletes preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The only problem is that he kept more than half of it (150 million yen).

Still according to Kyodo News, Aoki had allocated the sum of about 500 million yen (3.8 million dollars at the current rate) to its Olympic partnership, half of which was to be allocated to athletes. This last operation was carried out via an official of Dentsu, the biggest advertising agency in Japan, very involved with the organizing committee of the Games. The funds were transferred to Haruyuki Takahashi’s consulting firm via a company affiliated with Dentsu.

Within the framework of this operation, a dinner would have joined together in a restaurant of Tokyo Hironori Aoki, the founder and president of Aoki, and Haruyuki Takahashi. The first of the two men would have given to the second a mail containing all the requests of the company related to the Olympic Games. Haruyuki Takahashi told investigators that the letter had nothing to do with the Olympics, but that he had destroyed it.