[TOKYO] Japan's Olympic chief said Friday that payments reported by British media raising questions over alleged corruption by Tokyo's 2020 Games bid were "legitimate".
Tsunekazu Takeda, the former head of Tokyo's successful bid committee, said reports of clandestine payments were unfounded, describing them as a "legitimate consultant's fee".
Japan said Friday it would question officials involved in Tokyo's 2020 Olympics bid over the multi-million dollar payment, which is being probed by French investigators.
"We would like to reaffirm that the Olympic Games 2020 were awarded to Tokyo as the result of a fair competition and as a result of the contents of our bid," Japanese Olympic Committee president Mr Takeda said in a statement.
"The payments mentioned in the media were a legitimate consultant's fee paid to the service we received from (consultant) Mr Tan," added Mr Takeda, referring to Ian Tan Tong Han, reported by the Guardian as working for a subsidiary of Japanese marketing giant Dentsu.
Dentsu have denied any link to the company in question.
Mr Takeda said the money was for "professional services" for consultation work including "the planning of the bid, tutoring on presentation practice, advice for international lobbying communications and service for information and media analysis".
"All these services were properly contracted using accepted business practices," said Mr Takeda. "Furthermore, the amounts paid were in our opinion proper and adequate for the services provided and gave no cause for suspicion at the time."
Earlier, top Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular press conference that officials "will further work to confirm facts", citing the French probe.
Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo said the government's Sports Agency will speak to officials from the Tokyo metropolitan government and the Japanese Olympic Committee.
However, Mr Suga and Mr Endo both said they were confident that no wrongdoing occurred, based on previous declarations by officials.
Some 2.8 million Singapore dollars paid to a company owned by Papa Missata Diack is at the centre of the suspicions, French prosecutors said in a statement Thursday.
Diack father and son already face corruption charges in France.