Haruyuki Takahashi’s arrest earlier this month on suspicion of receiving ¥51 million in bribes from apparel-maker Aoki Holdings Inc. marks a dramatic fall from grace for one of Japan’s most powerful figures in the world of mass sporting events.
Takahashi, 78, a former executive of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Games and ex-Dentsu executive, denies the allegations and says that all payments from Aoki were legitimate consulting fees. But as Tokyo prosecutors continue to investigate, Takahashi’s 4½-decade career with Dentsu and as an independent consultant, and his work spearheading international sporting events in Japan, have come under the spotlight.
While Takahashi's career at Dentsu began in 1967, it was his effort to bring the New York Cosmos and Brazilian soccer star Pele to Japan for a “sayonara” tour in 1977 that marked his debut as a major figure when it came to organizing international sporting events. Despite Pele's status as one of the most famous athletes in the world, his arrival in Japan came at a time when the sport was far less popular here than it is today, and the decision to have him come was seen as risky.