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Dentsu’s involvement in Tokyo Olympic Games bid questioned by investigators

The Drum 16 Oct 2020 09:08
The company says its activities during Tokyo’s campaign adhered to the IOC’s rules of conduct.

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu donated millions of dollars to Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, and lobbied members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2013 despite holding a long-term contract with that body to market the Games.

Reuters also reports that Dentsu worked with a Singaporean consultant suspected by French investigators of bribing Olympic voters in Tokyo's favour.

The consultant, Tan Tong Han, is suspected to have passed a sum of $2.3 million – paid to his company, Black Tidings, by Tokyo’s campaign committee – to Papa Massata Diack, the son of International Olympic Council member Lamine Diack, to buy votes for Tokyo. Diack was convicted in France on 16 September in a separate case, for covering up Russian doping in return for bribes. He was sentenced to at least two years in jail.

Dentsu has confirmed the payment, but declined to specify the amount. It said said its staff had provided “advice and information to the bid committee” when requested but had no official consulting role.

Article 10 of the IOC’s rules of conduct for cities vying to host the games states that its top tier of advertisers and marketing partners “shall refrain from supporting or promoting any of the cities” in order to “preserve the integrity and neutrality” of the bidding process.

The IOC told Reuters that Dentsu had been “contracted by the IOC to deliver services which were not linked to the candidature of any city.”

• French investigators are investigating whether bribes were paid to secure the Tokyo games and are scrutinizing Dentsu’s role.

• Kiyoshi Nakamura, a senior Dentsu executive, told JOC investigators in 2016 that the IOC had what he called an “adult understanding” of Dentsu’s role in working directly with the Tokyo campaign. “They (the IOC) told us not to do it publicly,” Nakamura told investigators, according to a transcript of his 2016 interview seen by Reuters, not previously reported.

• The investigators hired by the JOC to look into whether any corruption took place in the Tokyo bid found no wrongdoing in a final report made public in 2016. The records from the JOC probe, including interview transcripts, were never given to French prosecutors.

• Nakamura, who ran Dentsu’s sports business at the time of the campaign, told JOC investigators that Dentsu “knew the most” about IOC members and wanted to assist the Japanese cause.

• Nakamura’s interview transcript shows he also told JOC investigators that Tan could “secure” IOC members such as Sergey Bubka, senior vice president at the International Association of Athletics Federations.

• After retaining Tan in July 2013, Torita said officials involved in Tokyo’s campaign had no direct communication with him. “After that, Dentsu stepped in as an intermediary,” coordinating on communications and invoices, the former Tokyo campaign official told JOC investigators, according to transcripts of interviews seen by Reuters.

• Shortly after Tokyo won the Olympics in September 2013, Dentsu contacted officials working for Tokyo’s campaign to relay Tan’s request for additional payment, Torita said, without identifying the officials.

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