A senior official of the Japanese Olympic Committee has defended president Tsunekazu Takeda over allegations of corruption, saying he should remain president when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.
In an interview with NHK, JOC Secretary General Eisuke Hiraoka said Takeda has fallen victim to a personal attack, despite following due procedures as committee president when bidding to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games .
He downplayed calls for Takeda to step down, saying many people believe Tokyo should host the Games in 2020 under his leadership as JOC President.
Hiraoka's comments came as the JOC is set to choose its new president in biennial internal voting in June.
If the 71-year old Takeda runs for another term, the JOC has to change its rules that stipulate its members of the board must be under 70 at the time of voting.
Hiraoka disclosed plans to propose amending its regulations during a board meeting next month to specify International Olympic Committee members will be exempt from the age limit. Takeda is also a member of the IOC.
French prosecutors say Takeda is suspected of involvement in alleged bribery over Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Games.
Takeda has denied the charge. He met reporters last month to claim his innocence.