French judicial authorities confirmed Friday that they have begun an official investigation of Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda over alleged corruption in Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
The French investigative proceedings may result in a public hearing, but there is no telling how long the process can take. In response to the events, the International Olympic Committee's ethics commission has opened a file on Takeda, while saying the JOC president is presumed innocent.
In Tokyo on Friday, Takeda said he had been cooperating with French authorities, who have been looking into allegations that bribes were paid to secure Tokyo's bid, which he led.
At the center of the investigation are two sums paid by the Tokyo bid committee totaling around 200 million yen combined that are believed to have wound up in the hands of Papa Massa Diack, the son of disgraced former world athletics boss Lamine Diack.
The payments made by the Tokyo bid committee went to a Singapore bank account, ostensibly for consulting. In May 2016, Takeda said the payments were legitimate fees for services provided.
"I cooperated at a hearing with the investigators in charge," said Takeda, who disputed the idea that the money had been linked to bribery. "Such a thing is unthinkable."
"It is extremely unfortunate if things untrue are reported," he said.
Although a third-party investigative team brought in by the JOC found no illegality in the contracts with the consultant, it was not possible to reveal the truth about the use of the 200 million yen involved.
"At this time, it would be best if everything was black and white," a JOC official said.
An executive with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said, "This is not good news."