A Tokyo court sentenced a former operations executive on the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee to two years in prison, suspended for four years, for playing a central role in rigging bids related to the 2021 Summer Games.

Yasuo Mori "took the lead in arranging bid-rigging among operators, leveraging his influence as an executive," the Tokyo District Court's Presiding Judge Kenji Yasunaga said in the ruling over Mori's role in bid rigging for contracts worth around 43.7 billion yen ($301 million) to plan and run Olympic test events and competitions.

The case, along with a bribery scandal involving another former organizing committee executive, has cast a shadow over the legacy of the Olympics held in summer 2021 after a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ruling said Mori conceived and played a central role in the illegal scheme, driven by the belief that biddings needed to be rigged to avert unfavorable outcomes and ensure success for intended operators.

Noting the substantial sums involved, it said Mori's actions greatly impeded fair and free competition. It criticized his disregard for the principle of open competitive bidding established in consideration of the committee's public nature, deeming his approach "short-sighted."

Mori had earlier admitted guilt, stating during his initial hearing that he had believed his actions were necessary to ensure the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Mori while his defense pleaded for leniency.

The ruling recognized that Mori did not commit the acts for personal gain, stating, "It cannot be denied that his sense of responsibility to lead the Olympics to success" played a role in the matter to some extent.

According to the ruling and other sources, Mori colluded with others, including Koji Hemmi, former executive at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Inc., in deciding between around February and July 2018 which companies would be awarded contracts to plan test events and run the actual tournaments.

In the case, six companies, including Dentsu Group Inc. and rival Hakuhodo Inc., along with Mori and six other individuals, have been indicted, with Mori seen as a central figure in orchestrating the bid-rigging.

In another scandal linked to the Tokyo Olympics, Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of the organizing committee who was previously a senior managing director at Dentsu, has been indicted on charges of receiving bribes totaling around 198 million yen in return for helping companies to be selected as Olympic sponsors or marketing agents.

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