TOKYO – The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee on Thursday fired the director of the opening ceremony over a Holocaust joke during a comedy show in 1998.
Organizing committee chairman Seiko Hashimoto said a day before the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi had been sacked. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust, including the phrase “Let’s Play the Holocaust” in his comedy act.
“We learned that Mr. Kobayashi used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy in his performance,” Hashimoto said. “We deeply apologize for this development a day before the opening ceremony and for causing trouble and concern to many of the parties involved as well as to people in Tokyo and the rest of the country.”
Tokyo has been plagued by scandals since the Games were awarded in 2013. French investigators are investigating alleged bribes to members of the International Olympic Committee to influence the vote for Tokyo. The result forced the resignation of Tsunekazu Takeda two years earlier, who headed the Japanese Olympic Committee and was an IOC member.
The opening ceremony of the pandemic delayed Games is to take place on Friday. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, although some officials, guests and the media will attend.
“We are going to have the opening ceremony tomorrow and yes, I’m sure there are a lot of people who are not feeling easy about the opening of the Games,” Hashimoto said. “But we are going to start the Games tomorrow in this difficult situation.”
earlier this week, Composer Keigo Oyamada, which was to be used at the concert, was forced to resign due to past bullying of his classmates, which he claimed in magazine interviews. Sections of his music will not be used.
Soon after a video clip and script of Kobayashi’s performance surfaced, social media was flooded with criticism.
“No one, no matter how creative, has the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group. .
He also noted that the Nazis handicapped the Germans.
“Any association of this man in the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” he said.
Kobayashi is a former member of the popular comedy duo Rahmen and is known overseas for comedy series including: japanese tradition.
Japan is going ahead with the Olympics against the advice of most of its medical experts. This is partly due to pressure from the IOC, which is estimated to lose $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights income if the Games were not held.
“We have been preparing since last year to send a positive message,” Hashimoto said. “At the very end there are now too many events that cast a negative image towards Tokyo 2020.”
Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto also acknowledged the reputational loss.
“Maybe these negative events affect the positive message we wanted to give to the world,” he said.
The last-minute scandal comes as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were the latest to plague the games. Yoshiro Mori resigns As chairman of the organizing committee on sexist comments. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down As creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress dressed as a pig.
Also this week, the chiropractor of the US women’s wrestling team apologized after apology Comparing Olympic COVID-19 Protocol to Nazi Germany In a social media post. From 2009 the team’s chiropractor Rosie Gallegos-Maine will be allowed to end her planned stay at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.