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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Opening ceremony director fired over Holocaust joke on Games eve
  • Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were the latest to plague the Games
  • The opening ceremony of the Games is scheduled for Friday night

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director of the opening ceremony, on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Earlier this year the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee resigned after making sexist remarks and Tokyo Olympics creative head followed after he made derogatory comments about a popular Japanese female entertainer.

On Thursday, Tokyo Game organisers fired Kentaro Kobayashi over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of his comedy act in the 1990s that recently resurfaced in domestic media.

“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 night. 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.

The 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.

Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were the latest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress like a pig.

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