A member of the now-defunct Tokyo Olympic organizing committee's executive board is believed to have received around 45 million yen ($326,000) from a sponsor of last year's global sports event, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
Haruyuki Takahashi told Kyodo News his sports consulting firm signed a consulting contract with major business suit retailer Aoki Holdings Inc. worth 1 million yen per month in September 2017 before the events were held, but it does not constitute a conflict of interest.
The contract could constitute bribery as the 78-year-old was deemed a quasi-civil servant and not permitted to accept money or gifts related to his duties.
Prosecutors are investigating the circumstances surrounding the contract, questioning Aoki Holdings' former chairman and founder Hironori Aoki, who retired last month, on a voluntary basis, people familiar with the matter said.
The suit retailer said in October 2018 that it had become an "official supporter" of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, allowing it to use the events' emblems for business purposes and sell officially licensed products, including suits bearing the emblems.
The company has sold more than 30,000 suits and jackets bearing the emblems to the public since summer 2019.
The Olympics were originally scheduled to start in July 2020 but were delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Takahashi said he "had no relations with (Aoki) that would conflict with the interests of the organizing committee."
Takahashi, a former senior managing director at Japan's largest advertising agency, Dentsu Inc., further stated that the contract concerned "a new business plan proposal for Aoki" and that he was unaware of any illegality.
Aoki declined to comment on the contract.
Following Japan's successful bid in 2013 to host the games, the organizing committee was formed in January 2014 and Takahashi, known for his wide connections in the field of sports at home and abroad, began serving on the organizing committee executive board in June that year. The committee disbanded in June this year.
Founded in 1958 and now operating suit stores nationwide, Aoki served as one of the official partners of Tokyo's campaign to attract the global event and outfitted Japanese participants with suits at the September 2013 International Olympic Committee's session in Buenos Aires. The late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech there and Tokyo won its bid.
The company also provided athletes with outfits for the Tokyo Games' opening ceremonies.
A special measures law for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics defined board members and other officials of the organizing committee as quasi-civil servants.
The International Olympic Committee also bans "the Olympic parties or their representatives" from accepting any form of remuneration or commission connected with the Olympics under its Code of Ethics.