Olympics Trash Talk

Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games has been put in jeopardy by some unfortunate comments made by the head of the city’s promotional committee, Governor Naoki Inose.

During an interview with the New York Times in New York, Inose violated International Olympic Committee rules by comparing Tokyo’s two rivals, Madrid and Istanbul, in an unfavorable light.

He implied that both cities have yet to build infrastructure as sophisticated as Tokyo’s, and with regard to Istanbul being the first candidate city with a large Muslim population, Inose commented that “the only thing [Islamic countries] share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”

According to the Rules of Conduct for bidders, “Cities shall 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.”

The IOC later said it would not penalize Tokyo for the faux pas, though at least one member said it might affect the final vote in September.

Inose apologized but only after making a defensive remark about a misunderstanding in the translation of his remarks. Actually, the translation was provided by his own interpreter, and the two NYT reporters who conducted the interview are both fluent in Japanese. One, in fact, is a native speaker.