People walk past the Tokyo court building in Tokyo, Japan, 21 April 2023. EFE-EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

Former chairman of Tokyo Olympics sponsor given suspended jail sentence

Tokyo, Apr 21 (EFE).- A court in Japan Friday sentenced the former chairman of one of the sponsors of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to two-and-a-half years in prison, the first ruling in the bribery scandal surrounding the event.

The Tokyo court building and part of the Justice Ministry (L) are seen in Tokyo, Japan, 21 April 2023. EFE-EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

The Tokyo District Court handed Hironori Aoki, 84, the former chairman of Japanese suits maker Aoki Holdings Inc., an official sponsor who was in charge, among other things, of making uniforms for staff present at the Games, a two-and-a-half year jail sentence, suspended for four years, public broadcaster NHK reported.

It is the first sentence in the five cases of alleged bribery and bid-rigging for the Games, involving five companies and 15 people to date, including senior managers of major firms including publisher Kadokawa, advertising agency Dentsu and a former executive of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

Aoki’s brother, Takahisa, 77, the former vice chairman of the company, was also handed a one-and-a-half year prison sentence, suspended for three years, while former company executive Ueda Katsuhisa, got a one-year sentence, suspended for three years, NHK reported.

The three executives were accused of offering former Tokyo 2020 organizing committee executive board member Haruyuki Takahashi a total of 28 million yen ($209,099) in bribes in exchange for sponsorship contracts.

Hironori pleaded guilty to the charges against him at the first hearing of the trial, held in December.

There have been a series of scandals involving the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and several companies, which came to light following a probe into Takahashi for allegedly accepting bribes.

Takahashi has denied the charges against him, saying he was paid for consulting services.

The authorities are also probing allegations for bid-rigging for test events at the Games. EFE