The director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Summer Olympics was fired after footage from a 1998 comedy sketch showed him making an anti-Semitic Holocaust joke.
Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed from his post just a day before the opening ceremony for the Summer Games to be held in Japan.
The organizing committee confirmed Kobayashi’s departure in a declaration. He explained that the creative director was removed from his post “after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event came to light.”
“In the little time left before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our sincere apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and of the world, ”the Committee said.
Kobayashi, known for his work as a comedian, actor and director, appeared in 1998 as part of the comedy duo, Frame. During a skit, Kobayashi and Jin Katagiri parodied the animators of an educational program for children. Kobayashi referred to certain cutouts of paper dolls, describing them as “those from the time when you said” let’s play the Holocaust “, according to Kobayashi. AFP News Agency.
His remarks were greeted with laughter from the audience.
Images have been shared online and was condemned by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga who said the comments were “outrageous and unacceptable”.
Kobayashi apologized saying local new: “I take care of entertaining people. I should never make people uncomfortable. I understand that my insane choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I regret it.
His departure comes days after one of the event’s composers, Keigo Oyamada, offered his resignation when an old magazine interview resurfaced in which he admitted to bullying other children at school. , including a classmate with learning difficulties.
The committee called the actions of Oyamada “absolutely unacceptable.” A four-minute segment of the show where his music was to be played has now been cut.
There is no confirmation on the impact of Kobayashi’s departure on the program or if changes can be expected to minimize his contribution.
The Opening Ceremony marks the start of the Olympic Games and is generally a high production value spectacle, showcasing the cultural wonders of the host country and setting the tone for a fortnight of sporting excellence.
This year’s show should be more discreet affair, reports Reuters. The postponed pandemic games were launched challenge after challenge with several athletes testing positive for COVID and Tokyo reporting increasing number of cases.