TOKYO – Organizers announced on Thursday that they have sacked the director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics after learning that he highlighted the Holocaust in a comedy routine.
The shooting of the director, comedian Kentaro Kobayashi, came a little more than 24 hours before the ceremony’s scheduled start on Friday.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at a news conference that organizers were reviewing the entirety of the opening ceremony schedule in the wake of Kobayashi’s dismissal. Hashimoto said he became aware of his previous comments about the Holocaust, which he had made on Wednesday morning in 1998.
Hashimoto said he was “deeply sorry” over the situation.
“The overall responsibility is on me,” she said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Jewish global human rights organization, condemned Kobayashi’s remarks on Wednesday. The center cited Japanese news reports that Kobayashi made malicious and anti-Semitic jokes “including the Holocaust”. “
“No one, however creative, has the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean and director of Global Social Action.
Kobayashi’s dismissal is the latest in a string of embarrassing moments for the organizing committee and especially its opening ceremony team.
Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, Resigned from Tokyo 2020 creative team earlier this week Amidst the reaction to bullying a disabled classmate during his childhood.
A previous creative director for the opening ceremony, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned in March amid revelations that he had made sexist remarks about a famous female entertainer in Japan, comparing her to a pig in a brainstorming session.
Contact Tom Shad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Shad.