TOKYO: The former chairman of a Tokyo 2020 Olympics sponsor was handed a suspended prison sentence Friday along with two others, in the first convictions in a spiralling bribery scandal surrounding the event. Corruption allegations have mushroomed in the aftermath of the pandemic-delayed Games, implicating major companies and damaging Japan’s bid to host the 2030 Olympics in Sapporo. Hironori Aoki, the 84-year-old ex-head of high-street business suit retailer Aoki Holdings, received a suspended prison term of two and a half years, a Tokyo District Court spokesman told AFP. Aoki pleaded guilty in December to accusations that he and two colleagues bribed a Tokyo 2020 board member to secure sponsorship rights, according to Japanese media. “These criminal acts damaged social trust in the fair operation of the Games, which attracted world attention and were important for the country,” judge Kenji Yasunaga said Friday in comments reported by Jiji Press. Aoki, who had instructed a colleague at the time to destroy evidence, “wanted to pursue the interests of his company”, the judge said. Prosecutors had sought immediate jail for the businessman, but instead the court handed down Friday’s sentence, suspended for four years. Aoki Holdings was an official partner of the 2020 Olympics – which were held largely without spectators in 2021 because of Covid – allowing the firm to use the event’s logo and sell officially licensed products. Aoki was arrested in August along with two ex-colleagues and former Tokyo 2020 board member Haruyuki Takahashi. The two ex-colleagues also received suspended jail sentences on Friday, one for a year and the other for 18 months. Takahashi, who is facing several separate bribery charges, has reportedly pleaded not guilty. Takahashi allegedly received $380,000 which he understood to be “thank-you money for the beneficial and preferential treatment” of Aoki Holdings, according to prosecution documents. An Aoki Holdings spokeswoman told AFP: “We take the ruling seriously and will do our utmost to prevent a recurrence and regain trust from our customers.” Other parties involved in bribery allegations include a major publishing firm and a merchandise company licensed to sell soft toys of the Games’ mascots. The former president of ADK Holdings, Japan’s third-largest advertising agency, has pleaded guilty to offering Takahashi over $100,000. Meanwhile, in a separate strand of allegations, senior Tokyo 2020 organising committee official Yasuo Mori and three others have been arrested on suspicion of rigging a string of Games-related tenders. And in February, Japan’s biggest advertising agency, Dentsu Group, was indicted along with five other companies for allegedly violating an anti-monopoly law. As investigations continue, the country’s Olympic chief warned this month that Japan could push its Winter Olympics bid back four years to 2034. Japanese Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita said it would be “difficult to move ahead without gaining people’s understanding” following the scandals. The allegations are not the first time questions have been raised about alleged impropriety around Tokyo 2020, which took place during a Covid state of emergency and against the backdrop of public anger. The then-head of Japan’s Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, stepped down in 2019 as French authorities probed his alleged involvement in payments made before Tokyo was awarded the event. He denies wrongdoing.