The president of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics bid committee Friday downplayed Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s recent criticism of Islamic countries, saying the matter had effectively been resolved by the incumbent’s apology.
Speaking in English at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, Tsunekazu Takeda stressed that no problems remain outstanding.
“Tokyo 2020 respects IOC rules, which (forbid) commenting on other candidate cities. Gov. Inose made some remarks, (for) which he has apologized already. The IOC told us that this case is closed.”
In a New York Times article in late April, Inose, who chairs Tokyo’s Olympics bid committee, spoke favorably of Tokyo’s infrastructure compared with its bid rivals, Madrid and Istanbul.
An interpreter quoted Inose as effectively saying Tokyo’s infrastructure is very sophisticated, compared with the other two bid sites, noting he said: “So from time to time, like Brazil, I think it’s good to have a venue for the first time. But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”
Inose’s comments were taken as a jab at Istanbul.
He apologized on April 30, saying his remarks were inappropriate, and retracted the apparent slights against Islamic nations. He also visited Serdar Kilic, the ambassador at the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo, on Thursday to apologize for possibly offending the Turkish people with his remarks.
The IOC said May 1 that Tokyo will not be penalized for Inose’s disparaging comments about Istanbul’s bid.
IOC rules of conduct prohibit comparisons among bidding venues. Article 14 states: “The cities shall refrain from any act or comment likely to tarnish the image of a rival city or be prejudicial to it. Any comparison with other cities is strictly forbidden.”
Takeda, also the chief of the Japanese Olympic Committee and an International Olympic Committee member, added Tokyo is now focused on delivering the goods.
“We’re totally focused on delivering the best possible Olympic Games.”
Takeda’s news conference was held to address Tokyo’s plans and expectations for the 2020 Games, ahead of the SportAccord International Convention in St. Petersburg, Russia, from May 26 to 31, when the three venues will make presentations to the IOC.
Tokyo, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964, is bidding for a second time in a row after failing to land the 2016 Games, which went to Rio de Janeiro. Istanbul and Madrid are aiming to be hosts for the first time.
The host city will be selected Sept. 7 at the IOC assembly in Buenos Aires.
Information from Kyodo added