News / Asia

Olympics-Tokyo Governor Apologizes for Remarks on Muslims, Istanbul

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose (C) is surrounded by media as he speaks to reporters at Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters in Tokyo, Apr. 30, 2013.
Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose (C) is surrounded by media as he speaks to reporters at Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters in Tokyo, Apr. 30, 2013.
Tokyo's outspoken governor, Naoki Inose, who heads the city's bid for the 2020 Olympics, apologized on Tuesday for "inappropriate" comments he made about rival candidate Istanbul and Islamic countries.

The remarks, made in a recent New York Times interview, prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to investigate, while Turkey's sports minister said they were "unfair and disheartening" and "did not comply with the spirit of the values of the Olympic Movement".

"Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes," Inose, who was elected Tokyo governor last year, said in the interview.

"For the athletes, where will be the best place to be? Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities," he said.

Tokyo is competing with Istanbul and Madrid to hold the Olympics for a second time after becoming the first Asian city to host the multi-sport event in 1964. Istanbul is bidding for a fifth time after its previous campaigns were unsuccessful.

"I said that Islamic countries fight, it was an inappropriate remark and I want to correct it," Inose told reporters at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on Tuesday.

He accepted that the New York Times story was correct, adding that he would not seek a correction from the paper.

"I apologize. My remarks caused misunderstandings among people from Muslim countries, so I would like to unequivocally apologize."

Inose's remarks sparked concern in Tokyo that it might affect the Japanese capital's bid for the Games as IOC rules ban candidates from making comments on fellow competitors.

Tokyo had yet to respond to an email from the authority enquiring about the meaning of the remarks, a spokesman for the bid said.

"If my remarks [on Istanbul] caused any misunderstanding I would like to apologize for them," said Inose, adding that it was a "good experience" and he now understood where the "lines are drawn".

"I want to keep campaigning strictly in accordance with the IOC rules that one should not criticize other cities," he said. "From now on I will campaign along these proper guidelines with respect to other cities' bids so that such incidents don't happen anymore."

A key aspect of the Tokyo bid is that many of its venues have already been constructed. Tokyo planners also emphasize the compactness of its offer, with 85 percent of the venues located within an 8 km (5 mile) radius of the Olympic Village.

The hosts for the 2020 Games will be decided at the next IOC Session in Argentina in September.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs