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1ST LEAD Japan calls payments over 2020 Tokyo Olympic bid "legitimate" By Takehiko Kambayashi, dpa

Europe
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Tokyo (dpa) - Japan on Friday confirmed payments in 2013 to a firm in Singapore linked to the son of former world athletics federation IAAF supremo Lamine Diack, saying they were "legitimate."

Tsunekazu Takeda, who led Tokyo‘s 2020 Olympic bid team, confirmed payments of 2.8 million Singapore dollars (2 million US dollars) paid to a bank account in Singapore controlled by a man named Ian Tan Tong Han were for contracted work from Tan.

"The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant‘s fee paid to the service we received from Mr. Tan‘s company," Takeda said. "It followed a full and proper contract and the monies were fully audited by Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC," a Tokyo-based auditing firm.

"The Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee can confirm that it paid an amount for the professional services received" for consultation work, added Takeda, who now serves as Japanese Olympic committee chairman.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda stressed at a news conference that they were "not questionable" payments, Jiji Press reported.

Hagiuda, a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said the Japan Sports Agency gave this explanation, which the Japanese Olympic Committee conveyed to the International Olympic Committee, the report said.

French prosecutors said Thursday they have launched an investigation into the payments linked to Tokyo‘s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics to an account linked to Papa Massata Diack who was an IAAF adviser.

The French financial prosecutor‘s office said in a statement the payment was made in two instalments from a bank in Tokyo to the Black Tidings company in Singapore, and marked "Tokyo 2020 Olympic Game bid."

Papa Massata Diack is sought by Interpol in connection with a French corruption investigation targeting the Diacks around the covering up of positive doping cases.

Lamine Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 1999 and 2014. Tokyo was elected 2020 host city by the IOC in September 2013 over Madrid and Istanbul.

The payments to Black Tidings were made before and after the vote, in July and October 2013, according to the French authorities.

Japan‘s Sports Minister Hiroshi Hase, who was involved in the big campaign, told a news conference: "We will cooperate in full, and wish for a thorough examination.

"Our intent was to conduct a bid that would have absolutely no wrong doing. I still have no doubts about that."

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