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Tokyo dodges IOC penalty for knocking Istanbul’s 2020 bid

Kyodo

The International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Tokyo will not be penalized for Gov. Naoki Inose’s disparaging comments about Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

“We wrote to Tokyo 2020 to remind them of the rules of conduct and this concludes the matter,” an IOC spokesman said.

The IOC asks all bidders to “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.”

In an interview dated Saturday in the New York Times, Inose painted Islamic countries like Turkey in a bad light.

“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 was quoted as saying.

On Tuesday, Inose apologized and admitted his remarks were “inappropriate” — just a day after claiming his words had been taken out of context by the prominent U.S. daily.

Earlier Wednesday, Turkish sports minister Suat Kilic reportedly accepted Inose’s apology.

“We now wish for a friendly competition between the candidate cities abiding by the criteria established by the IOC,” Kilic was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

“We place the utmost importance on the friendship and mutual respect between the peoples of Turkey and Japan that date back for centuries,” he said.

Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are vying for the right to host the 2020 Games. The winner will be announced Sept. 7 at the IOC assembly in Buenos Aires.

This is not the first warning Tokyo has gotten about criticizing rival bids. In the contest for the 2016 Games, eventually won by Rio de Janeiro, a Japanese diplomat questioned the point of entertaining a Brazilian bid when it had already been selected to host the World Cup soccer championships in 2014.

The IOC slapped Tokyo with a written warning for that remark.