A former board member of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee and three people from a clothing company that was a surprise sponsor of the 2020 games were arrested on suspicion of bribery on Wednesday.
Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive at advertising company Dentsu, is suspected of receiving bribes from the former head of Aoki Holdings and two company employees, the prosecutor’s office said.
The company, which makes affordable business suits, was a surprise choice to dress the Japanese Olympic team, when other countries had top fashion brands designing their athletes’ outfits.
It produces “recruit suits” that young people fresh out of school wear for job interviews and their first jobs.
The alleged bribery is believed to be linked to sponsorship of the games and products related to the Olympics.
Although corruption at top levels among Olympic officials had long been rumoured, the arrest comes as a blow to Japan’s Olympic ambitions.
Takahashi is credited with landing £2.5 billion in local sponsorship for the Tokyo Games. Japan is also pursuing the 2030 Winter Olympics for Sapporo.
Aoki said it was still looking into the matter and did not have any comment. The Japanese Olympic Committee was not immediately available for comment.
Japanese media reports said Takahashi denied any wrongdoing, saying he was paid for consulting services.
Tokyo hosted the Tokyo Games with much fanfare, as well as criticism, in summer 2021.
The event was postponed by a year and held with no public ticket sales because of the coronavirus pandemic, which came as a disappointment, as the games were supposed to drum up tourism revenue and put a spotlight on Japan’s prowess in a similar way to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The official price tag for the latest Tokyo Games was £10.7 billion, mostly public money.
That was double the initial estimate when the International Olympic Committee awarded Tokyo the event, but less than the £20 billion some had predicted.