Japan advertising exec pleads guilty to Olympics bribery

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The former president of a major Japanese advertising firm pleaded guilty to bribing an official to secure a sponsorship contract for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The former president of a major Japanese advertising firm pleaded guilty to bribing an official to secure a sponsorship contract for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Getty Images
  • The former president of a Japanese advertising firm bribed an Olympics official to secure a sponsorship deal. 
  • Shinichi Ueno offered over 14 million yen to secure the deal. 
  • Other officials and businesspeople have been embroiled in the scandal. 

The former president of a major Japanese advertising firm pleaded guilty on Friday to bribing an Olympics official to secure a coveted sponsorship contract for the Tokyo Games.

The admission in a Tokyo court comes as the investigation into bid-rigging and bribery widens, casting a shadow over Sapporo's bid for the 2030 Winter Games.

"Nothing stated is wrong," Shinichi Ueno said in court at his first appearance, after prosecutors reeled off a list of allegations.

Prosecutors allege that Ueno, 69, offered at least 14 million yen ($103,000) to then-Tokyo Games executive Haruyuki Takahashi to secure sponsorship deals for ADK Holdings, Japan's third largest advertising agency.

By 2018, prosecutors said, Ueno was becoming "desperate" because his firm was yet to land a single contract, and pleaded with Takahashi: "please help us."

Takahashi is widely regarded as a pioneer of sports marketing in Japan, and his pet projects were prioritised by aides, prosecutors said.

READ | Habana co-owned tech start-up launches app to boost sponsorship for SA Olympic medal hopefuls

He is now facing multiple charges in relation to a string of alleged bribes reportedly worth nearly 200 million yen.

After Ueno's indictment, ADK said in a statement that it takes the situation "very seriously" and vowed to "reconstruct our governance and compliance system".

The scandal has so far engulfed a suit retailer, a publishing firm and even a merchandise company licensed to sell soft toys of the cute Games mascots.

It has also prompted the northern city of Sapporo to suspend promotion of its 2030 Winter Olympics bid, and arrange a nationwide poll to gauge support.

ALSO READ | Climate change could force 'decoupling' of long-distance athletics events - World Athletics chief

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate the scandal, and just this month arrested another former senior Tokyo Olympics official and three businessmen.

The four men are accused of rigging a string of supposedly open competitive bids and limited tender contracts for Olympic events, reportedly worth a total of 40 billion yen ($305 million), local media said.

Questions had been raised over impropriety around the Tokyo Games even before the Covid-disrupted event took place in summer 2021.

The former head of Japan's Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, stepped down in 2019 after French prosecutors launched an investigation into corruption allegations linked to Tokyo's Olympic bid.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Do you think the wardens deployed across Gauteng will make a dent in curbing crime?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, proper policing is needed
79% - 3352 votes
Yes, anything will help at this point
21% - 871 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.