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During Tokyo Olympics, Japan Arrests People on Suspicion of Bribery

On Wednesday, a former Tokyo Olympic organizing committee board member and three employees of a clothing company that was a surprise sponsor of the 2020 Games were arrested on bribery charges.

Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at advertising firm Dentsu, is accused of accepting bribes from the former CEO of Aoki Holdings Inc. and two company employees, according to prosecutors.

When other countries had top fashion brands designing athletes’ outfits, the company that makes affordable business suits was a surprise choice to dress the Japanese Olympic team. Aoki is associated with Japan’s so-called “recruit suits,” which are worn by young people fresh out of school for job interviews and their first jobs.

The bribery is thought to be related to Olympic sponsorship and products. Although top-level corruption among Olympic officials has long been suspected, the arrest is a setback for Japan’s Olympic hopes.

Takahashi has been credited with securing $3 billion in local sponsorships for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan is also interested in hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics in Sapporo.

Aoki stated that it was still investigating the matter and had no immediate comment. The Japanese Olympic Committee did not respond immediately.

According to Japanese media reports, Takahashi denied wrongdoing and stated that he was paid for consulting services.

With much fanfare and criticism, Tokyo hosted the Tokyo Games in summer 2021. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event was postponed for a year and held with no public ticket sales.

That came as a surprise, as the Games were supposed to boost tourism and shine a spotlight on Japan’s prowess in the same way that the 1964 Tokyo Olympics did.

The official cost of the most recent Tokyo Games was $13 billion, the majority of which came from public funds. That was more than double the initial estimate when the International Olympic Committee awarded the Games to Tokyo, but less than the $25 billion predicted by some.

Source: Boston Globe