Tokyo Governor Apologizes Over Comments Concerning Istanbul's Olympic Bid

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Tokyo governor apologizes over 'inappropriate' comments concerning Istanbul's Olympic bid which included religion.

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Tokyo's outspoken governor, Naoki Inose, who heads the city's bid for the 2020 Olympics, apologized on Tuesday for his criticism of rival candidate Istanbul.

Inose made comments on Muslim countries in a New York Times interview which were seen as derogatory.

"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 with the New York Times.

Inose admitted his comment was inappropriate.

[Naoki Inose, Tokyo Governor]:
"I just said that there are some countries in the Islamic world that are fighting and I think it was an inappropriate remark and I want to correct it."

Tokyo is competing with Istanbul and Madrid to host 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.

[Naoki Inose, Tokyo Governor]:
"I apologize. I am apologizing as my remarks could be misinterpreted by people in the Islamic world, so I am clearly apologizing for this."

Inose's remarks prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to investigate the situation and Turkey's Sports Minister said they were "unfair and disheartening" and "did not comply with the spirit of the values of the Olympic Movement."

Tokyo has yet to respond to the IOC's email enquiring about the meaning of the remarks, a spokesman for the bid said.

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

[Naoki Inose, Tokyo Governor]:
"I will continue to campaign properly, adhering to the IOC code of conduct which stipulates that one should not criticise other (candidate) cities."

In Tokyo's favour are the fact that many of its venues are already built. 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 IOC will decide on the hosts at a meeting in Argentina in September.

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