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Embattled head of Japan’s Olympic committee resigns ahead of 2020 Summer Games

Embattled head of Japan’s Olympic committee resigns ahead of 2020 Summer Games
Tsunekazu Takeda stepped down Tuesday as head of Japan's Olympic committee. (Kiyoshi Ota / EPA/Shutterstock)

As French prosecutors continue to investigate Tokyo’s winning bid for the 2020 Summer Games, the embattled head of Japan’s Olympic committee has announced his resignation.

Tsunekazu Takeda said on Tuesday that he will also step down from his position on the International Olympic Committee.

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“I did not do anything wrong,” he told journalists at a news conference in Tokyo. “I will continue to make an effort to prove my innocence.”

Investigators are trying to determine if the Tokyo bid committee — led by Takeda — offered money to sway the IOC’s choice of a host city. They are focusing on large payments the bidders made to a consultant in Singapore around the time of the vote.

That consultant has ties to Papa Massata Diack, son of former track federation chief Lamine Diack, who is also embroiled in a bribery scandal.

Takeda has maintained that the payments were made in return for legitimate services.

The 71-year-old Japanese sports official, an IOC member since 2012, had served as head of the committee’s marketing commission.

“The IOC takes note with the greatest respect of the decision taken by Mr. Takeda to resign,” the IOC said in a statement. “Our respect of this decision is even higher, because he took this step to protect the Olympic Movement while the presumption of innocence, on which the IOC insists, continues to prevail.”

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin in late July of next year.

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