By Duncan Mackay

Naoki InoseApril 29 - Tokyo could face a reprimand from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ethics Commission after the city's Governor appeared to contravene strict bidding rules by criticising Istanbul, a rival in the race to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

Naoki Inose was quoted in the New York Times this weekend appearing to claim that Istanbul is less developed and less equipped to host the Games than the Japanese capital.

"For the athletes, where will be the best place to be?" said Inose in the interview, conducted during a recent visit to New York, where he urged the city's Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support Tokyo's Olympic bid.

"Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities.

"So, from time to time, like Brazil [for Rio 2016], I think it's good to have a venue for the first time.

"But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes."

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Tokyo Governor comments on Istanbul 2020Naoki Inose comments in the New York Times about Istanbul's Olympic bid could land Tokyo 2020 in hot water with the IOC

Government Ministers in Turkey, which is a secular nation, despite the large majority of its population being Muslim, are reportedly "surprised" at the comments of Inose, a renowned historian and social critic whose views have often proved controversial.

Inose also dismissed claims that Istanbul had an advantage over Tokyo because of Turkey's large young population, compared to Japan, whose is in comparison is relatively aging. 

"I'm sure people in Turkey want to live long," said Inose.

"And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan.

"There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn't mean much."

The IOC are investigating Inose's comments and are expected to formally write to Tokyo 2020 today to seek an explanation about the interview, which appears to break rule 14 of the conduct for bidders, specifically designed to stop bid cities commenting on rival campaigns.

Naoki Inose with Tokyo 2020 tee-shirt signed by Michael BloombergNaoki Inose with a Tokyo 2020 tee-shirt signed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg following his recent visit to the United States

The interview was conducted by Ken Belson, a reporter on the New York Times who speaks Japanese and who, in 2011, was part of a team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for international reporting for their coverage of the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan.

Hiroko Tabuchi, a Japanese-born writer on the New York Times, was also present at the interview.

"Tokyo 2020 fully respects and adheres the IOC guidelines for the Candidate Cities," a spokesman for Tokyo 2020 told insidethegames.

"We have the utmost respect for the other cities bidding to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and consider them all friendly rivals under the sublime spirit of the Olympic values, excellence, respect and friendship.

"We are currently reviewing the matter."
Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mac[email protected]