In what could inevitably be a big blow to its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo could face a reprimand from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission after comments by Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose about Istanbul were published in The New York Times. He apparently violated Rule 14 in the conduct for bidders, which prevents bid cities from commenting on their rivals.
Inose, who often has controversial views on issues, was quoted in the Times as saying that Istanbul is less capable of hosting the games than Tokyo. He also said that Turkey doesn’t have an advantage because of its large youth population over Japan’s relatively aging society. He said that if the Turkish people want to live longer, they should imitate Japan’s culture. “There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much”, he was quoted as saying. He also made some comments that might be construed as religious discrimination, when he said that the only thing Islamic countries have in common is Allah and that “they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.” In fact, Turkey is a secular nation, even if its population is mostly Muslim. The government ministers are reportedly “surprised” with Inose’s comments, given that he is a historian and social critic.
The interview was conducted by Ken Belson, a reporter on the New York Times who speaks Japanese and was part of a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011. Also present in the interview, conducted during Inose’s recent visit to New York, was Hiroko Tabuchi, a Japanese-born writer for the New York newspaper.
A spokesman for Tokyo 2020 said that they are reviewing the matter but fully respect the IOC guidelines for the Candidate Cities. They also have “utmost respect” for the other cities bidding for the Olympics and Paralympics Games, considering them “friendly rivals under the sublime spirit of the Olympic values, excellence, respect and friendship.”. The IOC are also putting the situation under review and is expected to send a formal letter to Tokyo 2020 asking for an explanation on the interview. Let’s hope a few statements will not unravel all the work and money invested into this bid.
[ via Inside the Games ]