The director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Summer Olympics was fired after the filming of a 1998 comedy sketch that made him see an anti-Semitic mockery of the Holocaust.
Kentaro Kobayashi was released from his duties just a day before the opening ceremony of the summer games is scheduled to take place in Japan.
The organizing committee confirmed Kobayashi’s departure in a statement. He explained that the creative director had been fired from his position “after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light”.
“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish that this matter may have caused to the numerous people participating in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan. and of the world, ”he said. the committee.
Kobayashi, who is known for his work as a comedian, actor and theater director appeared in 1998 as part of the comedy duo, Frame. During a sketch, Kobayashi and Jin Katagiri parodied the guests for an educational program for the children. Kobayashi referred to some paper doll cuts, describing them as “those of that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust,'” AFP Press Agency.
His statements were greeted with laughter from the public.
The video has been split online and was condemned by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga who said the comments were “scandalous and unacceptable”.
Kobayashi posted an apology telling the local news: “I’m in the business of entertaining people. It should never be the case that I make people feel uncomfortable. I realize that my schematic choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”
His departure comes days after one of the event’s composers, Keigo Oyamada, offered his resignation when an old magazine interview featured in which he admitted to intimidating other children at school, including a classmate of school with learning difficulties.
The committee called the action Oyamada “Absolutely unacceptable.” A four-minute segment of the show where his music was to be played was cut short.
There is no confirmation on how Kobayashi’s departure will affect the program or whether changes can be expected to minimize his contribution.
The opening ceremony marks the start of the Olympic Games and is typically a show of high productive value, highlighting the cultural wonders of the host nation and setting the tone for a fortnight of sporting excellence.
This year’s show is expected to be more business submitted, reports Reuters. Pandemic-related games have been launched challenge after challenge with multiple athletes Positive tests for COVID and Tokyo reporting an increasing number of cases.