Dentsu Facing Conflict of Interest Claims for $6 Million Tokyo 2020 Olympic Donation Says Reuters Investigation

According to bank records seen by Reuters, Dentsu Inc donated more than $6 million to Tokyo’s successful campaign to host the 2020 Olympics.

The Reuters report also says that Dentsu lobbied members of the International Olympic Committee on behalf of Tokyo, according to three people involved in the interactions. The alleged activities could point to a possible conflict of interest for the Japanese ad giant, which had inked a separate contract with the IOC to market the now postponed Olympic games.

Reuters says that in 2013 “Dentsu transferred $6.2 million into the Tokyo campaign’s sponsorship account, according to bank records seen by Reuters. The previously undisclosed contribution was more than 10% of the total that bid sponsors provided.”


As part of IOC policies to “preserve the integrity and neutrality” of the bidding process, Article 10 of the IOC rules of conduct for cities vying to host the games says that advertisers and marketing partners “shall refrain from supporting or promoting any of the cities”.

Reuters additionally reports that Dentsu endorsed the hiring of  Singaporean consultant Tan Tong Han by the Tokyo Olympic campaign. French prosecutors investigating the potential misconduct suspect that Han was involved in bribing Olympic voters for Tokyo in 2013. This according to two people familiar with the French probe says Reuters.

When asked by Reuters, the company said its staff only provided advice on “several experts and consultants in the sports field,” including Tan


The French Investigation

On the question as to whether bribes were paid to secure the Tokyo bid is a focus of French investigators looking at Dentsu’s role, a person with knowledge of the probe told Reuters. The report said Dentsu claims it had not been contacted by French prosecutors.

The IOC didn’t comment on whether bribes were paid relating to Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic campaign, adding that it was cooperating with French investigators.

The French probe includes the role of former International Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata, who were both convicted of corruption by a French court for covering up positive Russian doping cases. The Senegal-born Massata has called the case against him and his father by the French an “Anglo-Saxon conspiracy”.

According to Kyodo News, the now-shuddered Black Tidings Consulting firm based in Singapore “received a total of 230 million yen ($2 million) from the bid committee paid into a bank account in the city-state in July and October 2013.”

Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda has previously acknowledged signing off on the payment and while denying any wrongdoing, he resigned from the position in 2019 amid the investigation by French authorities. He also resigned from the International Olympic Committee.

“I have not done anything wrong,” he said at the time. “I will continue to do my best to clear my name.”

You can read the extensive Reuters investigative piece here as well as reporting by Kyodo News here.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email