Director of Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony fired over Holocaust joke made in 1998

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the Director of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony on Thursday for a holocaust joke. He made the joke during a comedy event in 1998. Director Kentaro Kobayashi of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony has been fired, according to organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto. He made the announcement a day […]

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July 22, 2021

Coronavirus

Sports

5 min

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Kentaro Kobayashi

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the Director of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony on Thursday for a holocaust joke. He made the joke during a comedy event in 1998. Director Kentaro Kobayashi of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony has been fired, according to organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto. He made the announcement a day before the opening ceremony. He was accused of making a Holocaust joke in his comedy act. It included the words “Let’s play Holocaust”.

“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said. “We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country.”

Since being awarded the Games in 2013, Tokyo has been beset by controversies. French authorities are investigating allegations of bribery given to members of the International Olympic Committee to sway the vote in favor of Tokyo. Tsunekazu Takeda, the President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and an IOC member, resigned two years ago. It is the result of the consequences.

Director of the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

The pandemic-delayed Games will begin on Friday with an opening ceremony. To avoid the spread of coronavirus illnesses, the ceremony will be performed without spectators. However, certain officials, visitors, and journalists will be present.

“We are going to have the opening ceremony tomorrow; and, yes, I am 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 open the Games tomorrow under this difficult situation.”

“Maybe these negative incidents will impact the positive message we wanted to deliver to the world”

Tokyo Olympics

Composer Keigo Oyamada’s music was to play during the event. But, he quit forcefully earlier this week. It was due to the previous bullying of his peers, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. His music will not be in this part. Following the release of a video clip and screenplay of Kobayashi’s performance, social media was full of criticism.

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group. He also recorded that the Nazis gassed Germans with disabilities.

“Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” he said.

Kobayashi is a former member of the renowned comedy duo Rahmens. He is famous for comedy programs such as “The Japanese Tradition”.

Despite the recommendation of the majority of its medical professionals, Japan is going forward with the Olympics. It is likely to lose $3 billion to $4 billion in broadcast rights revenue if the Games don’t happen.

“We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message,” Hashimoto said. “Toward the very end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image toward Tokyo 2020.”

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, also conceded the reputational damage.

“Maybe these negative incidents will impact the positive message we wanted to deliver to the world,” he said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government under fire

Yoshihide Suga

The last-minute controversies come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government is under fire for prioritizing the Olympics over public health concerns in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak.

The latest issues to beset the Games were Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s departure. Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organizing committee, resigned after making sexist statements. Hiroshi Sasaki resigned as creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies. It was after recommending that a Japanese actress dress up as a pig.

Also this week, the American women’s wrestling team’s chiropractor apologized on social media for equating Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany. Rosie Gallegos-Main is the team’s chiropractor since 2009. She can stay at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan, for the duration of her tenure.

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