Papa Massata Diack ‘tried to lock African votes’ to take 2020 Olympics to Tokyo

Sean Ingle
Papa Massata Diack, centre, is reported to have sent an email trying to ‘lock’ African votes for the 2020 Olympics. Photograph: Vincent Tremeau/AP

Papa Massata Diack, the man accused of being at the heart of the corruption racket to fix the bidding for Tokyo to win the 2020 Olympics, is reported to have sent an email on the day of the vote warning of the need to “lock” African votes to prevent them going to Madrid instead.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, Diack emailed his father Lamine, an influential figure in the International Olympic Committee, to warn him: “Information coming from your African colleague, it seems that Sheikh Ahmad is doing all he can to get the Africans to vote for Madrid! We need to lock this before the pause.”

The letter, which was sent on 7 September, 2013, hours before Tokyo was awarded the Games, was swiftly responded to by Lamine Diack, who told his son: “We can talk about it after the session.”

Last year the Guardian revealed that a £1m payment from the Tokyo bid team to a Black Tidings bank account linked to Massata Diack was made during Japan’s successful race to host the 2020 Games, and the bidding process for both the 2016 and 2020 Olympics remain under investigation by French police.

Lawyers for Lamine Diack, who is currently awaiting trial in France for corruption offences committed while he was head of the IAAF, athletics’ governing body, said their client would “reserve his declarations to the justice, before talking to the press” and that he is “absolutely innocent, concerning the offences he is accused of”.

Meanwhile Massata Diack, who remains on the run from Interpol in Senegal after being charged with a number of corruption offences by French police, told Le Monde: “As usual, good luck for your article and we will maybe meet at Tokyo in 2020 for an exclusive interview!”

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti referred to in Massata Diack’s email, is currently the subject of IOC ethics procedures against him but denies all charges.

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