Japanese Olympic Committee pays $13m tax bill for accounting irregularities. TEAM JAPAN

The Japanese Olympic Committee has been forced to pay around 2 billion yen ($13 million) in back taxes after the tax authorities discovered improper accounting between the 2018 and 2022 fiscal years.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) had a significant discrepancy in the tax figures owed to the tax control authority for the periods 2018 to 2022, according to the tax audit conducted by the Tokyo Regional Public Prosecutors Office. 

There was a difference of opinion regarding the JOC's expenses and the timing of the recognition of its income, the Tokyo-based committee said, but it has revised its tax declaration and paid the additional taxes to the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau.

"It is very regrettable. But we will do our utmost to ensure that it never happens again," Takahiro Kitano, a senior member of the committee's board, told reporters. The JOC is a public interest company and some of its operations are tax-exempt. 

He confirmed that they had paid about 2 billion yen ($13 million) in back taxes to the Tokyo Regional Tax Bureau, although he made it clear that they had not been fined for improper accounting.

Yui Susaki and Rui Hachimura at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony. GETTY IMAGES
Yui Susaki and Rui Hachimura at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony. GETTY IMAGES

Faced with the bureau's investigation, JOC argued that its accounting was appropriate, pointing out that it had outsourced its corporate tax calculation to a tax accounting firm and had been audited by both its internal auditor and an external entity. 

Takahiro Kitano said: "There is no evidence of malicious accounting practices. We will handle the situation in a way that will not affect the (future) training projects of the athletes". 

The national sports body, which said it believed its accounting was in line with the law, confirmed that it had paid the levy because contesting it "would cost us an enormous amount of work, time and money", according to Kyodo.

Arguments that they believed they had done the accounting correctly and without deliberate manipulation of the accounts, i.e. that it was an inadvertent mistake, may have been the reason why no additional fine was imposed on the large amount that the JOC had to pay.