On the eve of the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics the show director has been sacked following criticism of ‘anti-Semitic’ jokes he made nearly a quarter of a century ago.
he President of Tokyo 2020, Seiko Hashimoto, confirmed that Kentaro Kobayashi, a Japanese comedian, has been dismissed after clips emerged of him making jokes about the Holocaust in 1998.
He is the third high-profile member of the Organising Committee who has departed in controversial circumstances in recent months.
Earlier this week Keigo Oyamada, the composer of the music for the Opening Ceremony, resigned after he admitted abusing and bullying disabled children during his schooldays, according to the website Inside the Games.
Hiroshi Sasaki, the executive creative director for the Tokyo 2020 Ceremonies, stepped down in March after he suggested comedian and plus-size fashion icon Naomi Watanabe dress up as a pig for a section of the €8.5 million spectacle which will be broadcast live at noon on Friday (Irish time).
“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest 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 the world,” Tokyo 2020 said in a statement.
Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō said organisers would “review the entire programme” of tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony following the departure of Kobayashi.
A Jewish human rights group based in the United States had criticised Kobayashi for the remarks.
“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement.
The development is the latest scandal for organisers, who have been criticised for pressing ahead with the Games during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Opening Ceremony will be held in front of no spectators because of the ban on fans at Olympic events following a rise in Covid-19 cases in Tokyo.