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Japanese investigators raid Dentsu to expand Olympia investigation

TOKYO (AP) – Japanese prosecutors raided the headquarters of major advertising firm Dentsu on Friday as investigations into corruption linked to the Tokyo Olympics expanded.

Major local TV stations showed Tokyo District Attorneys and officials from the Japan Fair Trade Commission entering Dentsu’s headquarters.

Dentsu dominates event organization, marketing and public relations in Japan. It helped win the 2020 Games for Tokyo and then set record domestic sponsorships.

Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at Dentsu, has been arrested four times in recent months on charges of receiving bribes from various companies that became sponsors of the games.

According to Japanese media reports, the latest investigation focuses on bid-rigging when selecting locations for testing events. Test events began in 2018 and included various sports such as sailing and weightlifting in preparation for the Olympics. Test event selection is critical to being selected for actual Olympic venues.

According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper and other reports, the money exchanged for the bid-fixing totaled 500 million yen (US$3.6 million), involving nine companies and one organization.

Companies implicated in the earlier sponsorship scandal include Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that dressed Japan’s Olympic team, and Sun Arrow, which made Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Miraitowa and Someity.

Takahashi, who has been in custody since August, had a tremendous impact on the conduct of the Olympics. The bribes he allegedly accepted totaled more than 190 million yen ($1.4 million).

Dentsu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Cerespo, an events company also reportedly being raided on suspicion of involvement in bid-fixing, Japanese reports said, did not immediately comment.

Tokyo prosecutors do not comment on such daily news developments. But Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto recently told reporters that the investigation into the Olympics was continuing.

Speculation is mounting that the burgeoning scandal could cloud Japan’s bid for the 2030 Winter Games. The 2020 games have been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee has said it is monitoring Japan’s investigation and stressed that it has “every interest in the full investigation of this case”.

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