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The head of Japan’s Olympic Committee investigated by French judges for possible corruption

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The head of Japan's Olympic Committee investigated by French judges for possible corruption
Japan’s Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda at a press conference during the 127th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Monaco on December 8, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

The president of Japan’s Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, is being formally investigated by French prosecutors for alleged corruption related to Japan’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, an European judicial source said Friday.

The source said Takeda, a former equestrian sportsman, was indicted last month by the French financial prosecutor’s office. Prosecutor Renaud Van Ruymbeke suspects Takeda paid bribes to secure Japan’s winning bid.

In Tokyo, Takeda said that he was not involved in any wrongdoing in connection with the bid for the Tokyo Games and that he has not been charged by the French authorities.

Under French law, an accusation means that the person involved is being treated as a “formal suspect”, but the full charge occurs only when the case goes to court.

“I apologize for the enormous concerns raised by the people of Japan, who have given so much support to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to put all doubts aside, I intend to continue cooperating with the research,” Takeda said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it had been in close contact with the French judicial authorities. Its ethics committee has opened a file on the case and will meet later on Friday.

“Mr. Takeda continues to enjoy the full presumption of innocence,” the IOC said in a statement.

Takeda, 71, has also been a member of the IOC since 2012 and heads its marketing commission.