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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Fired After Old Video Of Him Making Holocaust Jokes Surfaces

Topline

Kentaro Kobayashi, the director of the Tokyo Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies, was dismissed from his role on Thursday after an old clip of the comedian making jokes about the Holocaust emerged online, in what is a major blow to the event on the eve of the opening ceremony.

Key Facts

The recorded skit showed Kobayashi—who made his name as part of a popular comedy duo—joking about the Holocaust by playing a “let’s massacre Jewish people game,” according to the Daily Beast.

Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Olympics organizing committee, said she and other members of the committee plan to “review the entire program” on Thursday—just a day it is scheduled to take place.

Hashimoto said she learned about the video on Wednesday morning and moved to dismiss him “as soon as possible.”

Hashimoto apologized for the scandal and said that she bore the “responsibility” for the organizers not conducting sufficient background checks on the director.

The former comedian apologized for making the video and said it was “extremely imprudent,” Kyodo News reported.

Key Background

Kobayashi’s dismissal follows a series of other high-profile exits of controversial figures from the games’ organizing team. Earlier this week, Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada stepped down from the opening ceremony after an old interview of him admitting to bullying his classmates with disabilities resurfaced. The organizers initially indicated that the Oyamada would remain a part of the ceremony after he had shown remorse for his actions. But hours later the composer submitted his resignation and the organizers issued a fresh statement calling his actions “absolutely unacceptable.” On Thursday, Hashimoto expressed regret for the organizers taking too long to dismiss Oyamada. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki, the creative director of the opening ceremony, resigned from his position after reports emerged that he suggested, Naomi Watanabe, a popular plus-sized female entertainer could wear pig ears at the opening ceremony. Sasaki reportedly even referred to his pitch of Wantanabe’s character as “Olympig.” In February, the games lost the original chief of its organizing committee after Yoshiro Mori was forced to resign from his position after facing global criticism for making sexist remarks. The former Japanese prime minister reportedly said women talk too much and have a “strong sense of rivalry” during a board meeting.

Further Reading

Tokyo Olympic ceremony director fired over Holocaust jokes (Kyodo News)

Kentaro Kobayashi, Olympics Opening Ceremony Director, Dismissed Over Holocaust Jokes (Daily Beast)



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