In a shocking turn of events, Yasuo Mori, a former operations executive of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, confessed to bid-rigging charges during the opening hearing at the Tokyo District Court. This admission adds to the mounting scandal that has cast a shadow over the legacy of the 2021 Summer Games.
Mori openly acknowledged the charges of violating the antimonopoly law, stating, “There is no mistake.” The trial proceedings revolve around bid rigging for contracts valued at approximately ¥43.7 billion ($302 million) that pertained to the planning and execution of Olympic test events and competitions.
During the hearing, Mori expressed his deep desire to ensure the success of the Olympics. He stated, “I believed we had to make the Olympics a success. I wanted it to become a wonderful games.” As the coordinator of the test events and the venues during the actual tournament, Mori played a pivotal role in the operational aspects.
Alongside Mori, six companies, including advertising giant Dentsu Group and its rival Hakuhodo, as well as six other individuals, have also been indicted. However, the 56-year-old former executive is seen as a central figure in orchestrating the bid rigging.
The indictment reveals that Mori colluded with others, including former Dentsu executive Koji Hemmi, 55, in determining which companies would be awarded contracts for planning the test events and managing the actual tournaments between February 2018 and July 2018.
Prosecutors, in their opening statement, emphasized that Mori and Dentsu took the lead in assigning the contracts. Mori’s selection of bidders was driven by his belief that it would contribute to the success of the tournament and secure his position post-games. Additionally, Mori aimed to exclude unrelated companies from participating in the bidding process.
The test events, which are crucial for identifying operational issues, ensuring security, and managing audience experiences, were conducted ahead of the 2021 Summer Games. These games were held with a one-year delay due to the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
This revelation adds to the already tarnished reputation of the Tokyo Olympics. Another scandal involving Haruyuki Takahashi, a former executive of the organizing committee, emerged, with Takahashi facing charges of accepting bribes amounting to approximately ¥198 million. These bribes were allegedly given in exchange for assisting companies in becoming Olympic sponsors or marketing agents.
As the trial progresses, the spotlight will remain on the individuals involved in bid rigging and corruption during the Tokyo Olympics. The outcome of these legal proceedings will shape the narrative surrounding the games and determine the accountability for these egregious actions.