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Ex-Tokyo Olympics official, ad execs arrested in bid-rigging scandal

Ex-Tokyo Olympics official, ad execs arrested in bid-rigging scandal
A boat tows giant Olympic rings as they are removed from the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park, after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games came to an end on Aug 8, in Tokyo, Japan, Aug 11, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters file

TOKYO — Japanese prosecutors arrested on Wednesday (Feb 8) a former Tokyo Olympics organising committee official and executives at three advertising agencies on suspected bid-rigging of test events for the Games, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office said.

The arrests come after months of investigations into alleged corruption in the planning and sponsorship of the international sporting event that was held in 2021 after a pandemic-driven postponement.

Yasuo Mori, the former deputy executive director of the Tokyo 2020 Games Operations Bureau, was arrested for suspected breach of antitrust laws, the Asahi newspaper and other Japanese publications reported.

The media reports later said the prosecutors also arrested three executives at advertising and event-planning firms Dentsu Inc, Cerespo Co and Fuji Creative Corporation, a subsidiary of Fuji Media Holdings Inc.

Dentsu said in a statement that a former employee, who currently works at a group firm in Japan, was arrested. "We sincerely apologise to all stakeholders, including our clients, for causing tremendous trouble and worries," it said, adding the company would fully co-operate with the investigation.

A Cerespo spokesperson also confirmed the arrest of its executive in an emailed statement that too promised co-operation with the investigation.


A spokesperson at Fuji Creative declined to comment.

Reuters was unable to ascertain Mori's contact details for a comment. The organising committee of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games was dissolved in June last year.

Local media have previously reported that Tokyo prosecutors late last year raided the offices of the country's biggest advertising agencies including Dentsu, Hakuhodo Inc and ADK Holdings Inc on suspicion of their colluding to rig the bids and orders for Olympics-related events worth an estimated 40 billion yen ($$403 million).

"It was truly regrettable if there was fraud in the bidding process for the Tokyo Games' test event," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the Japanese government's top spokesperson.

The bid-rigging investigation comes after a bribery scandal, in which Haruyuki Takahashi, a former member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics board and before that a Dentsu executive, was arrested in August on suspicion of receiving bribes from Olympic sponsors.

Executives from ADK, suits retailer Aoki Holdings and publishing firm Kadokawa have also been arrested in connection with the bribery scandal.

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