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      Politics

      Embattled Japan Olympics chief expresses intention to resign

      Facing bribery probe, Tsunekazu Takeda expected to announce decision Tuesday

      Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda speaks to the media following allegations of corruption tied to Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games at a press conference in Tokyo on Jan. 15.

      TOKYO -- The president of the Japanese Olympic Committee has told people close to him that he intends to resign amid bribery allegations tied to Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, sources with knowledge of the matter told Nikkei on Saturday.

      Tsunekazu Takeda's decision, which could be announced at an executive board meeting on Tuesday, comes as allies abandon the long-serving JOC chief. 

      Takeda's resignation has been widely seen as unavoidable, a little more than two months since it became known that he is the target of a French probe.

      French authorities are currently investigating Takeda over a possible bribe made in 2013 to an influential member of the International Olympic Committee. Takeda denied any wrongdoing at a 7-minute news conference on Jan. 15, days after the news first broke, but refused to take questions from reporters.

      The 71-year-old has led the JOC since 2001. The group had been working to revise the age limit to run for its board, now set at 69, so he could win another term at the next leadership race in June. But this has triggered a backlash, especially as the government pushes for better governance at sports organizations.

      The IOC has also begun distancing itself from Takeda to protect its reputation, a source familiar with the matter said. Although Takeda was instrumental in Tokyo's bid to host the games, he has not been as involved in the logistics of the event. Many believe that his departure now would not have a significant impact on the running of the 2020 Games.

      The Japanese chief was absent from a marketing meeting in Switzerland in January "because the IOC did not let him attend," the source said. He also did not go to the Olympic Council of Asia meeting earlier this month in Bangkok.

      It is unclear when exactly Takeda would leave his post or who his successor would be. One potential candidate is JOC senior executive board member Yasuhiro Yamashita, who serves as president of the All Japan Judo Federation and is leading the JOC's push to win 30 gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics.

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