Olympic opening ceremony director fired for Holocaust joke

TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday due to a Holocaust joke he made throughout a comedy present in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto mentioned a day forward of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of utilizing a joke in regards to the Holocaust in his comedy act, together with the phrase “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.”

The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games 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 media will attend.

“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’re going to open the Games tomorrow below this tough state of affairs.”

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was for use on the ceremony, was compelled to resign due to previous bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in journal interviews. The section of his music is not going to be used.

Soon after a video clip and script of Kobayashi’s efficiency have been revealed, criticism flooded social media.

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” mentioned Rabbi Abraham Cooper, affiliate dean and world social motion director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group.

He additionally famous that the Nazis gassed Germans with disabilities.

Kobayashi is a former member of a preferred comedy duo Rahmens and identified abroad for comedy collection together with “The Japanese Tradition.”

Japan is pushing forward with the Olympics in opposition to the recommendation of most of its medical consultants. This is partially resulting from strain from the IOC, which is estimated to face losses of $3 billion to $4 billion in tv rights earnings if the Games weren’t held.

The official price of the Olympics is $15.4 billion, however authorities audits recommend it is way more. All however $6.7 billion is public cash.

“We have been getting ready for the final yr to ship a optimistic 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 organizing committee, also acknowledged the reputational damage.

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

Koichi Nakano, who teach politics at Sophia University, wrote on Twitter that the opening ceremony chaos underscores a lack of awareness in Japan about diversity.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she learned of Koyayashi’s comments from Hashimoto.

“I used to be astonished,” she mentioned.

Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation have been the newest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki additionally stepped down as artistic director for the opening and shutting ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress ought to costume as a pig.

Also this week, the chiropractor for the American ladies’s wrestling group apologized after evaluating Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany in a social media publish. Rosie Gallegos-Main, the group’s chiropractor since 2009, will likely be allowed to complete her deliberate keep at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.


More AP Olympics: and—Sports


AP Sports Writer Stephen Wade contributed to this report.

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