According to a report from AP News, Tokyo 2020 opening ceremonies director Kentaro Kobayashi has been fired from his role due to a newly-resurfaced joke about the Holocaust that he made during a comedy show in 1998. Kobayashi reportedly incorporated the words “let’s play Holocaust” into his act which has been deemed unacceptable by Tokyo 2020 leaders.
Kobayashi spoke on the matter, according to CNN News, and offered the following remarks:
“Indeed, as pointed out, in the video software that was released in 1998 to introduce young comedians, a skit script I wrote contained an extremely inappropriate expression.”
“I understand that my foolish choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I regret it.”
The President of the Olympic committee Seiko Hashimoto discussed the matter, saying “we found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy. 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 ceremonies are set to take place on Friday, July 23 beginning at 8 pm local time in Japan.
Kobayashi’s dismissal is the latest in a number of similar occurrences over the past few months affecting high-ups with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. The aforementioned Olympic committee President Seiko Hashimoto actually stepped into her role in February 2021 after former Olympic chief Yoshiro Mori resigned.
Mori was pressured to resign after making a number of sexist remarks including “when you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying” and “women are competitive. When one person raises a hand, others think they need to speak up as well. That’s why everyone speaks.”
More recently, Olympic ceremony composer Keigo Oyamada resigned from his post earlier this month after admitting that he used to bully classmates with disabilities. His past bullying came to light due to 2 resurfaced interviews that he gave in 1994 and 1995 where he admitted that he would bully his classmates ‘without any remorse.’