The director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Kentaro Kobayashi, was sacked on the eve of the official launch of the Games, over a farcical scene over a decade ago in which he mocked the Holocaust, organizers announced. “It was found that during a previous presentation, (Kobayashi) used language that mocked a tragic fact in history,” Games Organizing Committee Chairman Seiko Hashimoto said at a press conference, adding that “the organizing committee decided to relieve Kobayashi from his position.”
The scene, which was released as a video shoot in 1998, shows Kobayashi and a comedian partner pretending to be famous children’s TV entertainers. While they brainstorm an activity involving the use of cards, Kobayashi points to some scraps of paper puppets and says “That’s from that time when I said ‘Let’s play Holocaust’,” to the audience’s laughter. The two men then joke about how outraged a TV producer is that a Holocaust-related activity was suggested.
The scene appeared on the Internet on the eve of the official opening of the games, which shocked some. “It is inevitable that they will face a fireball of criticism,” one viewer wrote on social media, although others questioned the reactions to a work over twenty years ago.
In a statement, Kobayashi apologized for the video, saying: “In a 1998 video of young comedians… my skit included completely inappropriate lines.” “It was from a time when I couldn’t receive laughter the way I wanted, and I think I was trying to get people’s attention in a shallow way,” he added.
Kobayashi, a well-known stage personality in Japan, is the latest scandalously excluded from the opening ceremony. Japanese composer Keigo Aoyamada, who co-designed the opening ceremony, resigned on Monday over an old story of bullying against his schoolmates with special needs. And the creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki, chose to resign in March after likening an overweight comedian to a pig.
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