Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Dismissed After Rude Holocaust Joke




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TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 22: Tokyo Olympic Stadium is pictured from Shibuya Sky Deck on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Olympics opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, has been sacked on the eve of the event after footage emerged in which he appeared to make jokes about the Holocaust. Mr Kobayashi follows a number of other figures involved in the Tokyo Olympic Games who have had to step down for inappropriate remarks. (Photo : Carl Court/Getty Images)

Controversy continues to hound the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the Games’ opening ceremony director stepped down from his position just a day before the huge show. Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed from his position as the show’s director on Thursday following comments he made in the past that “ridiculed the painful facts of history,” according to organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Kobayashi released a statement apologizing for the anti-Semitic comments he made in that skit script to introduce young comedians, saying he used “an extremely inappropriate expression.” The comedian later added that “I understand that my foolish choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I regret it.”

Kobayashi dismissed after Holocaust joke

In the said sketch that Kobayashi performed 23 years ago, he and another comedian pretended to be children’s entertainers. One line stood out from that performance in 1998, according to the AFP news agency. Kobayashi referred to some paper dolls he was playing with his colleague as “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust’.”

That drew the ire of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who described Kobayashi’s comments as “outrageous and unacceptable.” Olympics chief Seiko Hashimoto apologized for “causing concern to those involved in the Olympics, to the citizens of Tokyo and the Japanese public.” However, she made it clear that she was not aware of Kobayashi’s controversial sketch before his appointment.

Kobayashi’s dismissal follows the sudden departure earlier this week of Keigo Oyamada, the composer for both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics. The Japanese musician announced his decision to step down from his post after old interviews of Oyamada’s bullying behavior resurfaced.

Oyamada faced an intense social media backlash after comments he made in the 1990s with the Japanese magazine Rockin’On Japan began circulating on the web. Oyamada, also known by his stage name Cornelius, commented that he abused classmates with apparent disabilities while he was at school.

Kobayashi and Oyamada’s dismissals are just the latest in a string of scandals to have hit those connected with the opening ceremony. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki quit his post as Olympics’ creative chief after suggesting that plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe could appear as an “Olympig” in the show. He later apologized for the inappropriate comment.

Yoshiro Mori was forced to resign as the head of the organizing committee back in February after making inappropriate remarks about women, saying they talked too much. He also said that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time.”

Related ArticleSweden Ends US Women’s 44-Match Streak as Tokyo Olympics Kick off Soccer Competition 

Japanese PM insists opening ceremony will go on as scheduled

Despite the latest controversy, the Japanese Prime Minister insisted that the opening ceremony will officially signal the start of the much-maligned Tokyo Olympics. Organizers have decided to make the event a subdued affair to minimize the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Only a select number of officials and some dignitaries will be present at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for Friday’s opening ceremony, with Tokyo 2020 spokesman Hidemasa Nakamura telling reporters that around 950 VIPs will participate the event.

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