Sources: Tokyo Games exec pushed for sales period extension for Aoki

Haruyuki Takahashi, the former Tokyo Games organizing committee executive who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of accepting bribes, is alleged to have lobbied an executive of the committee’s marketing bureau on behalf of Aoki Holdings Inc., among other allegations.

Takahashi allegedly asked the marketing executive to consider extending the sales period of Aoki’s officially licensed Games products, according to sources.

The special investigation unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office believes the extension was among the requests Takahashi received from Hironori Aoki, the former Aoki chairman who was also arrested Wednesday on suspicion of paying bribes.

Aoki, the operator of a major businesswear retailer, signed a sponsorship agreement with the Tokyo Games organizing committee in October 2018, and sold about 30,000 officially licensed products such as suits and jackets bearing the Olympic emblem from 2019.

According to the sources, the Aoki side asked Takahashi at a Tokyo restaurant in June 2021 to extend the sales period of its licensed products, which was to expire at the end of that year.

Takahashi allegedly told the marketing bureau executive in charge of official product screening and sales management, “Aoki side would like to extend the sales period, and I’d like you to take care of it.” However, the request was not fulfilled because of procedural issues, according to the sources.

Takahashi was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes totaling ¥51 million on more than 50 occasions between October 2017 and March 2022 in exchange for giving the Aoki side preferential treatment in Olympic-related matters.

Although the sales period was not extended, prosecutors suspect Takahashi’s lobbying was the result of a request from the Aoki side.

Takahashi has insisted the payment from the Aoki side was legitimate remuneration for consulting work and was unrelated to Games-related projects.

Aoki’s former chairman has reportedly told prosecutors, “The money was not paid in relation to Takahashi’s role as a Games executive board member, and it was not a bribe.”