TOKYO – The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee fired the director of Thursday’s opening ceremony over a Holocaust joke he made during a 1998 comedy show.
Organizing committee chairman Seiko Hashimoto said a day before the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi had been fired. Kobayashi used a joke about the Holocaust in his comedic act, including the phrase “Let’s play the Holocaust.”
“We found that Mr Kobayashi, in his performance, used a phrase mocking a historic tragedy,” Hashimoto said. “We apologize deeply for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing concern and concern to many parties involved, as well as to the people of Tokyo and the rest of the country.”
Tokyo has been plagued by scandals since the Games were awarded in 2013. French investigators are looking at alleged bribes paid to members of the International Olympic Committee to influence the vote for Tokyo. The consequences forced the resignation two years ago of Tsunekazu Takeda, who chaired the Japanese Olympic Committee and was a member of the IOC.
The opening ceremony of the Late Games in the pandemic is scheduled for Friday. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and the media will attend.
“We will have the opening ceremony tomorrow, and yes, I’m sure there are a lot of people who do not feel easy about opening the Games,” Hashimoto said. “But we will open the Games tomorrow in this difficult situation.”
Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music would be used in the ceremony, was forced to resign over past harassment by his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. His music segment will not be used.
Shortly afterwards, a video clip and script of Kobayashi’s performance was unveiled, and criticism flooded social media.
“Every person, no matter how creative, has no right to make fun of the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global director of social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group. Anxhelos.
He also noted that the Nazis gassed disabled Germans.
“Any association of this person at the Tokyo Olympics would offend the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” he said.
Kobayashi is a former member of a well-known comedy duo, Rahmens, and well-known abroad for comedy series including “The Japanese Tradition”.
Japan is moving forward 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 face losses of $ 3 billion to $ 4 billion in television rights revenues if the Games were not held.
“We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message,” Hashimoto said. “Towards the end there are now so many incidents that give a negative image to Tokyo 2020.”
Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, also acknowledged the damage to reputation.
“Perhaps these negative incidents will affect the positive message we wanted to give to the world,” he said.
Last-minute scandals come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
And the Kobayashi Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were just the last issues that plagued the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as chairman of the organizing committee for sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also resigned as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting that a Japanese actress should dress like a pig.
Also this week, the chiropractor for the U.S. women’s wrestling team apologized after comparing COVID-19 Olympic protocols with Nazi Germany in a social media post. Rosie Gallegos-Main, the team chiropractor since 2009, will be allowed to complete her planned stay at the USA Wrestling Pre-Olympic Camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.
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