• Politics & Government

Japan Sports Bodies Decide on Guidelines to Battle Corruption

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi, center, and Japan Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita, right, receive governance guidelines from lawyer Kei Ikuta in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

The Japan Sports Agency and the Japan Olympic Committee were among the organizations that decided Thursday on governance guidelines for major sports events, in response to a series of corruption and bid-rigging allegations related to the Tokyo Games.

The guidelines set forth 11 rules regarding the composition of executive boards and the selection of sponsors, in an effort to eliminate corruption in future events organized by the national and local governments with public funds. The guidelines were decided on at the third meeting of a project team chaired by lawyer Kei Ikuta, in Tokyo on Thursday.

To enhance the transparency of governing bodies, the guidelines include the establishment of a independent committee to select executive board directors, and regulations outlining policy for the selection of sponsors.

Governing bodies of major events often include staff seconded from private companies. The guidelines therefore request that criteria be devised to indicate what transactions constitute a conflict of interest; that conflicts be properly managed by a committee independent of the executive board; and that seconded staff not be assigned to sections closely related to their companies.

Since governing bodies have a significant impact on society, they are encouraged not only to release information as required by law but also to provide information proactively and voluntarily.

Based on the bid-rigging scandal involving the Tokyo Games, the guidelines also call for a compilation of bidding rules, as well as the creation of a manual and education for high-ranking officials and staff to avoid encouraging bid rigging.

Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships, and the Asian Games — including those for parasports — will be held in Aichi Prefecture in 2026.

The new guidelines are not mandatory, so the governing bodies concerned will be asked to self-report their compliance status.

The project team consists of five lawyers and certified public accountants. It has been working since last November to identify problems in a series of corruption and bid-rigging cases, through interviews with 13 former employees of the Tokyo Games organizing committee. The team announced a draft of the guidelines in February to hear opinions from sports and economic organizations.

The term of the project team has been extended until next March so the guidelines can be revised if new facts come to light during trial.

Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi said Thursday at the meeting, “We share an unwavering commitment to restore fairness in the world of sports, and we unite and make our utmost efforts to that end.”