Tokyo: The Tokyo Olympic organising committee fired the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.
Organising committee president Hashimoto said opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase Let’s play Holocaust, in one of his shows.
Kobayashi apologised for the 1998 skit and said at that time he was ‘trying to grab people’s attention in a shallow-minded way’ in an interview with AFP.
His dismissal comes the day before Friday’s opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games.
Earlier this week, a composer whose music is expected to be used at the opening ceremony was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews.
The Tokyo Olympics, which was originally scheduled for last summer was postponed due to the pandemic, however, the decision to go ahead has been widely questioned.
As the action unfolds, Japan’s capital city will be under a state of emergency. The whole world will be watching a government seeking to manage the most prestigious sport mega-event against the backdrop of a global public-health crisis, said Simon Chadwick, Global Professor of Eurasian Sport, Director of Eurasian Sport, EM Lyon and Paul Widdop, Senior Lecturer in Sport Business, Leeds Beckett University.
According to Chadwick, officials are anxious to ensure the Games do not become widely remembered as a super spreading event. At the same time, they will be desperate to salvage something from an event that was supposed to engage sport as a means to bring about economic, social and political change in Japan.
The decision to bid for hosting rights was made shortly after the Fukushima tsunami in 2011. An Olympic Games is seen as being a positive step in helping the country recover from the tragedy.
(With inputs from PTI)