Organizers say Kentaro Kobayashi was fired because of past comments that made fun of the Holocaust.
The director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been fired, organizers have said after news broke that he had made jokes about the Holocaust.
President of Tokyo 2020 Seiko Hashimoto He told a briefing Thursday that Kentaro Kobayashi, who was part of a comedy act in the 1990s, had been fired because of comments that mocked the tragedy.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish international human rights organization, first issued a statement condemning Kobayashi’s past behavior.
“Any association of this person with the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” said Abraham Cooper, rabbi, associate dean and director of the center’s global social action.
Kobayashi himself said he regretted what he called a “stupid choice” of words.
The news is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Tokyo organizers who have sparked outrage at home and abroad and arrived just days after a well-known musician was forced to leave his post as a composer. for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and his abusive behavior. even facing.
In February, Yoshiro Mori, who as Japanese prime minister, was forced out leave for sexist remarks. A month later, the creative head of the Games, Hiroshi Sasaki, also resigned after making derogatory comments about a popular Japanese animator.
Bees to jump to ceremony
Meanwhile, public broadcaster NHK said the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided not to attend the ceremony.
The Japanese government had previously declared a state of emergency and virus restrictions in Tokyo, in an effort to minimize health risks among residents and visitors.
Abe’s office could not be immediately reached on Thursday, a public holiday in Japan.
Abe, who was famously dressed as the title player of the video game Super Mario at the Rio Games to represent Japan, played a major role in attracting the Olympics to Tokyo.
At the time, Abe and his supporters hoped the Olympics would be parallel to the 1964 Tokyo Games announcing the nation’s rebirth after decades of economic stagnation and also marking its recovery from a devastating nuclear and natural disaster. of Fukushima in 2011.
Instead, the Games, delayed by a year due to the global pandemic, have faced a series of scandals and setbacks.
– # Tokyo2020 (@ Tokyo2020) July 22, 2021
Friday’s opening ceremony, which is normally an important showcase for the host nation, is expected to be a subdued affair, with Japanese media reporting that fewer than 950 people – including only about 15 world leaders – will attend.
Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, is due to land in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon for the ceremony, raising expectations that she could also use her presence to discuss the vaccines with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Biden traveled across the United States urging more people in the country to be inoculated.
Only a third of Japanese people have had at least one dose of the vaccine, raising public concerns that the Olympics could become a super-broadcast event.
Already dozens of participants have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the retreats of athletes and teammates to isolation.
COVID-19 infections have jumped into the capital and are expected to spike further, straining healthcare providers.
In a recent survey published in the Asahi newspaper, 68 percent of respondents expressed doubt about the ability of Olympic organizers to control coronavirus infections, with 55 percent saying they were opposed to it. the Games going on.
The Olympics competition has already begun, with the Japanese women’s softball team getting the computer a winning start on Wednesday, while Sweden beat the US in women’s football.