--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 3
EDITORIAL: Report on probe into Tokyo’s Olympic bid far from convincing
(社説)JOC報告書 納得にはほど遠い

The Japanese Olympic Committee obviously faced some tough challenges in its investigation into the Tokyo Olympic bid committee’s dubious cash payments to a consulting company. But that doesn’t justify the JOC’s failure to produce a convincing report on the matter.
The JOC’s investigative team on Sept. 1 published a report on its probe into the bid committee’s payments totaling 230 million yen ($2,2 million) to a Singapore-based consulting firm.
It said the cash payments were not illegal and that the bid committee had no intention of resorting to bribery or other illegal acts.

But the report failed to make clear how the money paid by the bid committee was actually used. The investigative team contacted a number of foreign figures suspected to be linked to the consulting company. They included Lamine Diack, a former International Association of Athletics Federation president who was then a member of the International Olympic Committee. Diak was in a position to influence the vote to decide the host.
His son Papa Massata Diack, who had close ties with the consulting firm, is also under the spotlight. But neither of them offered to cooperate with the JOC for the investigation, according to the report.

The conclusion of the inquiry team was based almost entirely on remarks made by Japanese officials involved. It is far from a clear and complete picture of what transpired.

Since French prosecutors have also been looking into the matter, new developments could arise.

The probe has shed some light on the opaque nature of people who work as "consultants" in the international sports arena as well as on the bid committee’s slipshod approach to selecting consultants it hires.

Senior officials of the bid committee had no independent information about the Singapore-based firm. The committee paid a large amount of money to the company it knew little or nothing about based on the advice of Dentsu Inc., Japan’s leading ad agency, which has been involved in marketing operations in the international sports community.

The bid committee for the 2020 Olympics hired 11 consulting companies, including the Singapore-based one. The committee that represented Tokyo’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Summer Games, which were granted to Rio de Janeiro, struck deals with some 30 consulting businesses.

There are no market rates for fees to be paid to such companies, and deals are often done at the prices asked by the firms. The Japanese bid committee for the 2020 Games paid more than 1.1 billion yen in consulting fees.

Only a small number of senior officials of the committee were aware of what roles the consultancies were playing and the kind of work in which they were engaged.

The ways bidding cities contact with IOC members are limited, which make it virtually impossible for a city to host Olympics without the help of consultants. Even so, senior officials of the bid committee are at least responsible for making careful and conscientious decisions on whether the service offered by a specific consultancy is worth the cost.

As a first step in the reform of bids for Olympics, the IOC, starting with the 2024 Games, will require bidding cities to register the consultants they hire and disclose the information about the consultants working for the cities. In addition, the IOC has also decided to require consultants to declare they will abide by the rules concerning Olympic bids.

Many questions have been raised about the huge costs involved in trying to host the Olympics and actually holding the events.

Still, there’s high level of social interest in the Olympics, with people around the world eagerly awaiting these events.

Currently, the race to host the Olympics is determined to a large extent by people working behind the scenes.

If this situation continues, the Olympics will eventually lose their luster.