French prosecutors probe Tokyo 2020 Olympics award
Details emerge of corruption investigation into suspect payments
French prosecutors confirmed Thursday they have launched a corruption investigation into the decision to award the 2020 Summer Olympics to Tokyo.
According to French daily Le Figaro, the confirmation was made by the French financial prosecutor's office after the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper published the information on Wednesday.
The investigation was launched after details emerged of a 1.3 million euro ($1.49 million) payment by the winning bid's team to the Black Tidings Company in Singapore, a company of Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and an influential honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the time.
Diack left his world athletics role in disgrace in Nov. 2015 following allegations he accepted bribes to cover up positive doping test results by Russia.
He was subsequently accused of corruption by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The payment was suspected of having been made during the Olympic bidding process in 2013, shortly before Tokyo defeated the other candidate cities – Istanbul and Madrid – according to an investigation by the Guardian.
The newspaper previously reported that an investigation by French prosecutors into corruption in world athletics had been expanded to include the bidding and voting processes for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
The 2016 Summer Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer. Tokyo defeated Istanbul in a second round of voting for the 2020 Games by 60 votes to 36, after Madrid was eliminated in the previous round. It was the Turkish city's fifth attempt to win the Summer Olympic Games.
A spokeswoman for the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee told the Guardian: "The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has no means of knowing these allegations. We believe that the Games were awarded to Tokyo because the city presented the best bid."