Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori has claimed he bears no responsibility for the myriad of problems that have overshadowed preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics in the Japanese capital.
He insisted he would have “had to be God to have predicted them”.
Initial problems have included the scrapping of initial plans for the newly designed National Stadium and a plagiarism scandal surrounding the Tokyo 2020 emblem.
More seriously, these have been followed by allegations of a suspicious payment made by the Tokyo 2020 to Black Tidings, a Singapore-based firm with links to the son of former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Lamine Diack, during its successful campaign.
Mori, a former Japanese Prime Minister, blamed Japanese journalists for their apparent misunderstanding of the Stadium dispute, which was to be facilitated by the Central Government rather than Tokyo 2020.
“[The] media must have thought I would have almighty power to determine everything,” he said.
“I am not the kind of person to have that sort of power – maybe they thought so due to my political power.
“Everyone has a different way of deciphering a person called Mori.”
An initial design for a JPY ¥252 billion (£1.35 billion/€2.08 billion/$1.85 billion) Stadium was scrapped by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe last year in face of mounting public opposition as costs soared.
Then, the original logo choice designed by Kenjiro Sano had to be scrapped last September following claims from Belgian designer Olivier Debie that it resembled his Théâtre de Liège logo too closely.
Leading Tokyo 2020 officials had not been involved in selection process, Mori claimed, but had “no doubts” about the initial selection criteria.
The alleged payment totalling $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.7 million) was given to Black Tidings before the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013 at which Tokyo was awarded the Olympics and Paralympics ahead of rivals Istanbul and Madrid.
Black Tidings is already under investigation by French prosecutors as part of an inquiry into its use to channel money involved in the cover-up of Russian doping cases.
Japanese Olympic Committee President and Tokyo bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda insists the fee was for legitimate consultancy work, but the French probe is continuing.
Takeda has been unable to satisfactorily explain what the money was for.
Mori claimed the issue is nothing to do with him or any of his senior colleagues because they were not involved in the bid.
The issue was not raised by the IOC during Tokyo 2020’s presentation to the Executive Board today.
“If I’d known these things would happen, I would be like God,” he said.
“Things now are on the right rhythm and have settled down.
“We are now on track and are making smooth movements.”
Japanese officials told the IOC today that they are now employing 713 staff and have 34 partners on board.
They are currently “working hard” on their segment during the Closing Ceremony of Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 21 and on their observation programme during the event.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz