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IOC recognizes scandal-hit Japanese Olympic chief's resignati

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TOKYO, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recognized that president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, has resigned as an IOC member, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said Wednesday.

Takeda, facing allegations of corruption connected to Tokyo's successful bid to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, had been a member of the IOC since 2012 and president of the JOC since 2001.

Takeda stepping down from the IOC leaves Japan with just one member, Morinari Watanabe, who assumed the post on the committee last October.

Last week, Takeda said he would resign from his post as JOC president when his current term ends in June.

French authorities said they have been considering indicting Takeda since December last year after he was placed under formal investigation for "active corruption."

The 71-year-old who was serving his 10th term as president of the JOC is suspected by the authorities of paying for bids to help Tokyo secure the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games.

They suspect payments amounting to more than 2 million U.S. dollars made to a Singaporean consultancy firm by the Tokyo Games' bid committee in 2013, were to buy votes for Tokyo's campaign to host the Olympics.

Authorities have said they suspect that some of the funds went to the son of a Senegalese man who formerly held a high position on the IOC.

Takeda, who in January denied that the payments made were illicit, was president of the Tokyo 2020 bid committee from 2011 to 2014.

While denying allegations that he had illegally paid for votes that led to Tokyo securing the summer Games in 2013 ahead of rival bids from candidate cities Madrid and Istanbul, the IOC has expressed concern that the scandal will damage the image of the upcoming Olympics.

With less than 500 days until the Games are scheduled to open here, the JOC has been asked by the IOC to expedite the settling of the matter.

JOC senior executive board member Yasuhiro Yamashita, a former Olympic judo gold medalist, is now the leading candidate to succeed Takeda as the JOC chief and become head of the the Tokyo Games organizing committee.

Another strong contender for the top posts is senior executive board member Kozo Tashima, who is also president of the Japan Football Association.

The IOC said it accepted Takeda's decision to step down "with respect" and that it would not insist Takeda answer to its ethics panel.

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