In a fairly rapid showing of forgiveness, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated on Wednesday that it will not be penalizing Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics after negative comments were made by Governor Naoki Inose about rival candidate city Istanbul, Turkey, and Islam. The disparaging remarks were published as part of an interview in the New York Times, which quickly led to accusations of mis-translation and statements about being out of context, followed by Inose’s apology.
An IOC spokesman said that they notified the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee and reminded them the rules prohibit any bidders from acting or commenting in a way that will tarnish a rival city. Likewise, comparisons of any kind are also forbidden. The NY Times quoted Tokyo Governor Inose as saying, “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.” On Monday of this week, Inose claimed that he understood the interview to be over when he made the remarks, and that they out of context with what the focus of the article was to be about. However, he formally apologized on Tuesday, admitting that what he said was “inappropriate.”
While many in Turkey remain angered or offended over what was said by the Tokyo official, Suat Kilic, the country’s sport minister, stated on Wednesday that he accepted the apology and wanted to move ahead with friendly competition within the IOC’s rules between all the candidate cities, which also includes Madrid, Spain. Kilic added “We place the utmost importance on the friendship and mutual respect between the peoples of Turkey and Japan that date back for centuries.”