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Sports Shorts: Japan committee chief Takeda to step down

Last updated on: March 19, 2019 21:00 IST

IOC

IMAGE: Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda speaks to the media after JOC board of directors meeting in Tokyo. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) chief Tsunekazu Takeda, who is under investigation for suspected corruption, said on Tuesday he will step down from his position when his term ends in June and resign from the International Olympic Committee.

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, said during a JOC board of directors meeting in Tokyo he would step down and not seek re-election.

At a news conference later on Tuesday, Takeda said: "I don't believe I've done anything illegal."

 

When asked why he had not resigned with immediate effect, Takeda said: "It pains me to have created such a fuss, but I believe it is my responsibility to serve out the rest of my term."

Takeda had 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 2020 Games.

He also serves on Tokyo 2020's Executive Committee but it was unclear whether he would also be standing down from this role.

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 probe and Takeda is suspected of paying bribes to secure the winning bid. [nL8N1ZB1OE]

Takeda has denied any wrongdoing, saying that there was nothing improper with the contracts made between the committee and the consultancy and that they were for legitimate work.

The IOC's ethics commission has opened an ethics file on Takeda, who chairs the IOC's marketing commission. Takeda has been a member of the IOC since 2012 and was president of the Tokyo 2020 bid committee.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have yet to comment on Takeda's resignation.

The JOC is expected to elect a new president in June during regular biennial voting.

Japanese media have reported that former Olympic judo champion Yasuhiro Yamashita and Japan Football Association President Kozo Tashima, both JOC Executive Board members, could be in line to take over.

Olympic hopeful Hong Kong swimmer To dies at 26

Kenneth To, a record-breaking Hong Kong-Australian swimmer who had his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, died suddenly after a training session in the United States, officials said on Tuesday. He was 26.

To, who holds 17 Hong Kong records and won a silver medal as part of Australia's 4x100 metre medley relay squad at the 2013 world championships, was in the United States for a three-month training programme at the University of Florida.

To, who was born in Hong Kong and raised in Australia, died on Monday. The cause of death was not disclosed.

"He felt unwell at a training session and was taken to hospital where sadly, he passed away," the Hong Kong Sports Institute, where To was an Elite Scholarship Athlete since 2016, said in a statement.

"He was extremely popular and loved by his teammates and competitors. Kenneth was known as a truly exceptional person, warm, funny and kind. His sudden passing is a huge loss to local sports."

To, who transferred his nationality in 2016 to swim for Hong Kong, first began to shine at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore where he earned six medals, including gold in the 4x100m medley.

In 2012, To won the men's overall title in the FINA Swimming World Cup, before claiming three medals in the FINA World Swimming Championships in Istanbul.

He was also a member of the Australian teams at the 2014 Commonwealth Games that captured gold in the 4x100m freestyle and silver in the 4x100m medley.

World swimming governing body FINA said in a statement it learned with "immense sadness" about To's death and described him as a reference and example for the youth in the territory.

Australian swimmer James Magnussen posted a tribute to To on Instagram: "Shocking news to hear of the passing of my competitor but most of all, friend - @kennethkhto. We've been racing each other and making teams together since we were 16.

"He will remain one of the fiercest competitors I've ever stood on the blocks next to. I firmly believe that for a long period he was pound for pound, the best swimmer in the world.

"RIP little guy, you won't be forgotten."

Lakshya, Riya break into top 100; Sindhu, Saina static in new badminton rankings

Young Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen and Riya Mookerjee on Tuesday broke into the top-100 to be placed 76th and 94th among men's and women's singles players in the latest world badminton rankings.

In the latest BWF rankings, Lakshya made a massive jump of 28 places while Riya climbed 19 spots.

B Sai Praneeth, who stunned Olympic champion Chen Long before losing in the final of the Swiss Open against China's Shi Yuqi at Basel on Sunday, also moved up three places to 19th.

Kidambi Srikanth remained static and is the best placed Indian in the men's rankings at seventh, followed by Sameer Verma (14th), H S Prannoy (24th), Subhankar Dey (43rd), Parupalli Kashyap (48th), Ajay Jayram (52nd) and Sourav Verma (53rd).

Japan's Kento Momota is the leading the men's chart followed by Yuqi and Chinese Taipei's Chou Tie Chen.

In the women's singles rankings, P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are static at sixth and ninth positions respectively.

Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying tops the women's singles list ahead of China's Chen Yufei and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.

In men's doubles, the pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty are the best placed Indians at 24th, while Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy have dropped a rung to 27th.

The women's doubles combination of Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy are static at 23rd spot, while the mixed doubles pair of Ashwini and Rankireddy have also managed to hold on to their 24th position.

2020 Tour de France to get off to hilly start

The 2020 Tour de France will get off to a hilly start with two stages around Nice, organisers said on Monday.

The opening stage will be a 170-km ride around the Azurean city but is expected to be decided in a bunch sprint finish.

It will serve as a warm-up for the 190-km trek featuring three climbs with the overall contenders expected to already be at their best.

The peloton will tackle the Col de Colmiane before the Col de Turini and the Col d'Eze.

The Col de Turini featured in this year's edition of Paris-Nice while the Col d'Eze is a regular on the 'Race to the Sun'.

The 2020 Tour will be held from June 27-July 19.

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