Olympic opening ceremony director fired because of Holocaust joke

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Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired its director of the opening ceremonies on Thursday due to a joke about the Holocaust he made in a 1998 comedy show.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, announced that Kentaro Kobayashi had been fired a day before the ceremony’s opening. In his comedy act, he was accused of making a joke about Holocaust in which he used the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”

Hashimoto stated that “We discovered that Mr. Kobayashi used a phrase mocking a historical tragedy in his own performance.” “We deeply regret that we caused such a development on the day of the opening ceremony, and for causing trouble and concerns to many parties as well the people in Tokyo.

Since the Games were awarded to Tokyo in 2013, Tokyo has been plagued by scandals. French investigators are investigating alleged bribes that were paid to International Olympic Committee members in order to influence the vote to Tokyo’s favor. Tsunekazu Takeda was a member of the IOC and headed the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Friday is the scheduled date for the opening ceremony of pandemic-delayed Games. As a precaution against the spread of coronavirus infection, the ceremony will not be attended by spectators. However, officials, guests, and media representatives will attend.

Hashimoto stated that the opening ceremony will be held tomorrow. “Yes, there are many people who aren’t feeling easy about the Games opening.” “But, we will open the Games tomorrow in this difficult environment.”

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was to be used at the ceremony, was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. This segment of his music won’t be used.

After a video clip of Kobayashi performing was revealed and a script, social media was flooded with criticism.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate director and global social action chief of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, stated that no one, regardless of their creativity, has the right to make fun of Nazi genocide victims.

He also observed that Nazis gassed Germans who had disabilities.

He said, “Any association of such a person to the Tokyo Olympics will insult the memory of 6,000,000 Jews and make a cruel mockery the Paralympics.”

Kobayashi was a member of the popular comedy duo Rahmens. He is also well-known for his comedy series, “The Japanese Tradition”.

Despite the advice of many of its medical professionals, Japan is moving ahead with the Olympics. The IOC is pushing Japan to go ahead with the Olympics despite the fact that it could lose $3 billion to $4B in television rights revenue if they don’t.

Officially, the Olympics cost $15.4 billion. However, government audits indicate that it is much higher. Only $6.7 billion of the total cost is public money.

Hashimoto stated that “we have been preparing for this year to send out a positive message.” “Towards the end now, there are so many instances that give a negative impression towards Tokyo 2020.”

Toshiro Muto, the Tokyo organizing committee CEO, also recognized the reputational damage.

He said, “Maybe these unfortunate events will impact the positive message that we wanted to send to the world.”

These scandals are coming as Prime Minister Yoshihide Sug’s government is criticised for prioritizing Olympics despite public health concerns and a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Koichi Nakano (a Sophia University professor of politics) wrote on Twitter that the chaos at the opening ceremony demonstrates a lack awareness in Japan regarding diversity.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike stated that she heard about Koyayashi’s comments through Hashimoto.

She said, “I was stunned.”

Oyamada’s resignation and Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke were just two of the recent problems plaguing 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 as a pig.

Also this week, the chiropractor for the American women’s wrestling team apologized after comparing Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany in a social media post. Rosie Gallegos Main, the team’s chiropractor, will be allowed continue her stay at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp, Nakatsugawa in Japan.