The 71-year-old head of the Japan Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, announced on Tuesday that he will retire from the JOC and as a member of the International Olympic Committee in June.
“I don’t believe I’ve done anything illegal or wrong,” Takeda said. “It’s regrettable that a shadow has been cast on the tournament because of me, but I also think it’s my duty to serve out the rest of my term as president.”
Takeda has served as JOC President since 2001 and was the head of the IOC’s Marketing Commission when he was embroiled in the Diack influence-peddling scandal by French authorities.
Is his resignation a big deal? Not really.
Takeda stated in a news conference in Tokyo that he would continue to contest the charges against him, tied to his approval of a consulting contract with a company called Black Tidings. The firm was paid more than $2 million for “consulting services” just prior to and after the IOC’s vote that selected Tokyo as host for the 2020 Olympic Games back in 2013.
All of this ties back to an influence-peddling scheme allegedly masterminded by another former IOC member, IAAF chief Lamine Diack, who is accused by the French of buying the votes of other IOC members for the selection of the 2016 and 2020 host cities, extorting money to cover up doping positives of Russian athletes and allowing his son, Papa Massata Diack, to skim funds from IAAF sponsor and television rights deals.
The elder Diack was arrested in 2015 and has remained under house arrest in France ever since. Papa Massata Diack remains in Senegal, which has refused to extradite him to France for questioning. The front man for Black Tidings, a Singaporean named Tan Tong Han, was sentenced to a week in jail in January for lying to authorities about his activities.
Takeda’s resignation continues the pattern of actions on the fringe of the investigation, which is about Lamine Diack and vote-buying for the 2016 and 2020 Games, extortion and theft, and perhaps more. His case was expected to go to trial in 2018, but the investigative activities have continued with no end in sight.
For Takeda, a two-time Olympic competitor in equestrian in 1972 and 1976 and later a coach, he will leave with a considerable legacy of service to the Japanese Olympic community. He has been widely condemned by some, but it’s an open question as to how much he knew about the Black Tidings contract and when he knew it. Time will tell; he has been informed that he is under investigation by the French, but he has not been inducted.
The French appear to be in no rush to complete their inquiry, now in its fifth year. Until they take the case against the Diacks to trial, the shadow they have cast over the Olympic Movement will remain.