The head of Japan’s Olympic Committee is facing charges for suspected “active corruption” in connection with the awarding of the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo, France’s financial crimes office said Friday.
Tsunekazu Takeda, who is also the International Olympic Committee’s marketing chair, was placed under formal investigation for corruption on Dec. 10.
The preliminary charges stem from a French investigation into sports corruption, including the bidding contests for the 2020 Olympics and other major sports events.
Two payments worth a total of $2 million made around the time of Tokyo’s selection raised suspicion among investigators, The Wall Street Journal reported. Takeda is suspected of authorizing the payment of bribes.
Takeda denied on Friday the allegations of corruption and insisted that he didn’t pay any bribes. “The case is causing tremendous concern among the people who are supporting the Tokyo Games, but I will continue to cooperate in the investigation in order to clear any suspicion of me,” Takeda said.
The IOC ethics commission will meet on Friday in Switzerland to potentially suspend Takeda from his Olympic duty or suggest stepping aside during the investigation.
“The IOC ethics commission has opened a file and will continue to monitor the situation,” the IOC said in a statement. “Mr. Takeda continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence.”
The preliminary charges in France mean that authorities believe there is suspicion of wrongdoing, but haven’t yet decided whether to begin prosecution and file formal charges.
The magistrate overseeing the probe, Renaud Van Ruymbeke, suspects the IOC’s decision to host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was influenced by deals behind the scenes, according to France's Le Monde newspaper.
The Japanese Olympic Committee, meanwhile, said it has conducted its own investigation into corruption in the past and found no illegality regarding payments made by the Japanese bid committee.
Tokyo's Olympics are set to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 next year. The event returns to the city for the first time since 1964.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.