Olympics

Calls mounting for JOC chief Takeda to resign amid bribery scandal

Kyodo

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, who is being investigated by French authorities for alleged bribery related to Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics, will soon face mounting calls to resign, multiple official sources said.

The JOC will hold elections for its board of councilors and board of directors in June and July, and some are concerned the ongoing investigation will detract from the Tokyo Olympics and make it difficult for Takeda to remain in his post, the sources said Friday.

Yasuhiro Yamashita, the 61-year-old head of the Japan Judo Federation, is being spoke of as a possible successor to run the JOC, with Takeda taking on a role as president emeritus.

The 71-year-old Takeda has asserted he did nothing wrong in his role as head of the Tokyo Olympic bid committee, which paid roughly $2 million to a Singapore firm, ostensibly for consulting.

But with the investigation unlikely to wrap up anytime soon, it will be hard for Takeda to erase the bad publicity before the start of next year’s Summer Games. Because of that, some have started to call for his resignation.

Takeda became JOC president in 2001 and is serving his 10th term, and no rivals for his position have emerged ahead of the next election.

But staying in the post would run counter to the current mood in Japan’s sports world. Following a recent string of sports scandals, calls have increased for stronger governance rules. A growing number see the trend of repeatedly re-electing the same officials to run sports bodies as leading to more rigid policies rather than reform.

Seiko Hashimoto, head of the Japan Skating Federation, has also been raised as a potential candidate for JOC chief, although some believe the position might prove hard for the 54-year-old to balance along with her job as a Diet member.

Asked to comment about the situation, Takeda said, “There’s only one truth, and it’s my desire to prove that.”

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