Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have fired Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director of the opening ceremony, after video emerged of him making a Holocaust joke during a comedic act in the Nineties.
The decision comes just a day before the Olympics opening ceremony was to be held for the delayed games. In the skit, Kobayashi joked about “massacring Jews” while miming the act of cutting up human figures made of paper.
“I understand that my choice of words was wrong, and regret it,” Kobayashi said in a statement. “I apologize to those who felt displeasure.”
In their own statement, the Olympics organizing committee said Kobayashi had “made a mockery of a painful historic fact in the past” and apologized “for having caused troubles and concerns to many stakeholders, and residents of Tokyo and Japan.”
Kobayashi’s firing is only the latest Tokyo Olympics scandal, following the resignation of Keigo Oyamada, a composer who wrote music for the opening ceremony, after interview excerpts surfaced in which he admitted to bullying and abusing his disabled classmates. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki, the first creative director for the ceremony, resigned after a magazine story revealed that he compared a popular comedian and plus-sized fashion designer to a pig. Yoshiro Mori, the former president of the Tokyo organizing committee, also stepped down due to sexist comments about women.
Aside from the multiple organizer scandals, there also remain ongoing concerns about Covid-19 safety at the Olympics as athletes from around the world head to Tokyo. As of July 22nd, 10 Olympic athletes have tested positive for Covid-19.
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