LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) chief Tsunekazu Takeda, who is under investigation in France for suspected corruption and will step down from his role in June, is no longer an International Olympic Committee member, the IOC said on Tuesday.
Takeda, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said last week he would step down from the JOC when his term ends and would also resign from the IOC. The Olympic body, however, said his membership ended on Tuesday.
“The IOC Executive Board recognised the resignation of Tsunekazu Takeda,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a news conference after a meeting of the executive board.
“With this recognition and in accordance with IOC regulation his secession of IOC membership takes immediate effect.”
Takeda’s IOC departure means he no longer heads the organisation’s marketing commission, a key body that seals deals with major sponsors. The 71-year-old joined the IOC in 2012.
French prosecutors have questioned Takeda in Paris and placed him under formal investigation in December for suspected corruption in Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Games.
Takeda, who was president of the 2020 bid committee, has been head of the JOC since 2001 and his resignation leaves a cloud hanging over both the national committee and the organisers of the Tokyo Games.
French investigators have led a years-long probe into corruption in athletics and in early 2016 extended their inquiry into the bidding and voting processes for the hosting of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Multi-million dollar payments made by the Tokyo bid committee to a Singapore consulting company are under examination and Takeda is suspected by prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the winning bid.
Takeda has said there was nothing improper with the contracts made between the committee and the consultancy and that they were for legitimate work.
His departure from the IOC leaves Japan, who hosted the Summer Games in 1964 as well as two winter editions, with only one IOC member in Morinari Watanabe.
“Japan is a very important country in the Olympic movement and with the Games coming up it is even more important. These things will be looked at,” Adams said.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis and ken Ferris