A video of Olympic Opening Ceremony Director Kentaro Kobayashi, 48, joking about Holocaust in a 1998 show has gone viral, compelling the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee to fire him from the post. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto issued a statement, a day ahead of the opening ceremony, announcing that Kobayashi has been dismissed.
"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," said Hashimoto.
Following the news, Kobayashi too issued a statement and apologized for his choice of words. "I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it." The opening ceremony of the Games is scheduled for July 23. The event will not have any spectators due to pandemic restrictions. However, officials, guests and media will be present on the occasion.
Kobayashi's Holocaust Joke
Kobayashi's comment have come under fire from netizens, with the video of his Holocaust joke going viral. In the video, Kobayashi is heard referring to Holocaust and saying "let's massacre Jewish people game."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Los Angeles-based human rights group, who spoke to The Washington Post, slammed Kobayashi for his insensitive comments. "Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics," said Cooper.
Olympics 2021: 5 Controversies
Olympics 2021 has been plagued by controversies. Yoshihide Suga's government is being criticized for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns. The event has been marred by the removal and resignation of a number of office bearers of the organizing committee.
Initially, the committee had decided to use composer Keigo Oyamada's music during the opening ceremony. But allegations of Oyamada bullying his classmates in the past started making rounds online. So much so that even the composer boasted the same in a magazine interview. Following this, the organizers decided not to use Oyamada's music for the Olympics ceremony.
Other committee members who resigned include Yoshiro Mori and Hiroshi Sasaki. Mori was the committee president and had to resign after he made sexist remarks. Sasaki was the creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the event. His suggestion that one of the Japanese actresses should dress as a pig led to his resignation from the post.
Also, social media post of a chiropractor for the American women's wrestling team had to tender an apology after she posted that Tokyo Olympics COVID-19 protocols were similar to that of Nazi Germany.