Japanese institute paid $1.3 million by Tokyo Games bid committee shuts operations

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– A Japanese non-profit sports institute paid US$1.3 million (S$1.73 million) by the Tokyo Olympic bid committee during a campaign to secure the 2020 Games shut down all its activities at the end of December, according to a notice on its website.

The Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport Institute, established in 2009 and run by former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, did not provide a reason for ceasing activities on its website.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach a representative of the non-profit by telephone or email.

Mori did not respond to a Reuters request for comment when contacted by email through the Tokyo organising committee.

The Tokyo metropolitan government, which has a seat on the institute’s board, said it had not been notified of the non-profit’s closure nor any changes in the group’s activities.

The Tokyo bid committee paid the institute US$1.3 million between 2012 and 2014, when Tokyo was lobbying to win the 2020 Games, Reuters reported last year.

A staff member at the institute told Reuters last year the money was used to hire a US-based consulting firm and two individual consultants to support the Tokyo 2020 bid.

Mori, a powerful figure in Japanese sport who now heads the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, said in November he was not directly involved in the non-profit’s finances and said he did not know about the money the institute received from the bid.

“It’s true that I am the president of that organisation, but I wasn’t directly involved in the handling of the finances,” he said during a news conference last year.

French investigators have examined banking records and transactions by the Tokyo bid committee as part of an ongoing investigation into whether US$2.3 million paid to Singapore consultant Ian Tan Tong Han was a bribe to win support from a key member of the International Olympic Committee for Japan.

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