No more blunders, Japan Olympic chief tells colleagues over Islam gaffe

The Japanese Olympic Committee president, Tsunekazu Takeda, said Tokyo could not afford any more mistakes. (Reuters)

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) chief has urged his colleagues to choose their words carefully and avoid a repeat of a recent gaffe that may jeopardize Tokyo’s chances of hosting the 2020 Games.

Tokyo’s outspoken governor, Naoki Inose, who heads the city’s Olympic bid, apologized last week for “inappropriate” comments he made about rival candidate Istanbul and Islamic countries.

“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 New York Times.

The remarks prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to investigate, while Turkey’s sports minister said they “did not comply with the spirit of the values of the Olympic Movement.”

JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda said Tokyo could not afford any more mistakes.

“I plead with you to observe the rules on bid activities and make sure this kind of trouble does not occur a second time,” Takeda told his colleagues at an executive meeting on Tuesday, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Madrid is the other city bidding to host the 2020 Games, the venue of which will be decided at the next IOC Session in Argentina in September.

Inose’s remarks sparked concern in Japan that they could have a negative impact on Tokyo’s bid to host the multi-sport event for a second time.

Former IOC vice president Chiharu Igaya also urged JOC members to be careful of what they said.

“Politics and religion are complicated issues,” Igaya said.

“If there are 115 members of the IOC and there will be 115 different ways of thinking,” he added.

“All we can do is do our utmost to make something good come out of this disaster.”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40
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