TOKYO (AP) — Japanese prosecutors raided the headquarters of major advertising agency Dentsu on Friday, as an investigation into corruption related to the Tokyo Olympics widens.
Major local television stations showed the Tokyo District Prosecutors and Japan Fair Trade Commission officials entering Dentsu headquarters.
Dentsu dominates event organization, marketing and public relations in Japan. It helped host the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, and then lined up record domestic sponsorships.
Haruyuki Takahashi, a former CEO of Dentsu, has been arrested four times in recent months for accepting bribes from various companies that have become sponsors of the Olympics.
According to Japanese media, the latest investigation revolves around rigging tenders to select venues for test events. Trial events began in 2018, covering a variety of sports including rowing and weightlifting, in preparation for the Olympics. Being selected for test events is crucial to being selected for actual Olympic venues.
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun and other reports, the amount of money changed hands for bidding fraud amounted to 500 million yen ($3.6 million), involving nine companies and one organization.
Companies implicated in the previous sponsorship scandal include Aoki Holdings, a clothing company that wears the Japanese Olympic team’s kits, and Sun Arrow, the maker of Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots called Miraitowa and Someity.
Takahashi, detained since August, had a huge influence on the running of the Olympics. The bribes he allegedly received totaled more than 190 million yen ($1.4 million).
Dentsu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Cerespo, an event organizer that Japanese reports said was also raided on suspicion of involvement in bid fraud, was not immediately available for comment.
Tokyo prosecutors do not comment on such daily news developments. But Deputy Prosecutor General Hiroshi Morimoto recently told reporters that the investigation into the Olympics is still ongoing.
Many speculate that the growing scandal could overshadow Japan’s bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics. The 2020 Olympics have been postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The International Olympic Committee said it was monitoring Japan’s investigation, stressing that it was “very interested in fully unraveling this incident.”