Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Director Fired Over Holocaust Joke
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Does the past haunt us? At present it seems to be a reality. The latest blow to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics occurs just one day before officially kicking off. The organizers removed the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi , from his duties for having made a joke about the Holocaust in 1998, in his role as a comedian.
The organizing committee made the decision just after the video was released early Thursday morning (Japan time). In the audiovisual, Kobayashi and another actor are shown pretending to be famous children's comedians from the Asian country. In one scene, the former actor refers to some paper dolls as "the ones you said last time: 'We're going to play the Holocaust!'" , Which caused laughter from the audience. In addition, the comedians added that such a reference to the Holocaust would anger the television producer. Let us remember that approximately 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the genocide.
The president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto , offered an apology for any offense and distress the incident may have caused to those involved in the Olympics, as well as to the citizens of Japan and people around the world. Furthermore, he pointed out that they were not aware of Kobayashi's past actions.
The former comedian apologized through a statement in which he acknowledges that he was "extremely reckless." “I would like to apologize to those who were offended. I apologize for any offense I may have caused.
The video has generated so much controversy that Japan's defense minister Yasuhide Nakayama reported to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, which condemned Kobayashi's behavior and called the joke anti-Semitic.
“Anyone, no matter how creative, has no right to make fun of the victims of the Nazi genocide. The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person with the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and cruelly mock the Paralympic Games, ”Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associated with the center, said in a statement.
According to The Japan Times , this new scandal adds to the lack of enthusiasm for the Games that is already in the public eye and concerns about the risks of COVID-19.
The 48-year-old former comedian was notified of his dismissal Thursday morning. His firing follows that of musician Keigo Oyamada , after he admitted to abusing and harassing colleagues with disabilities . The composition of Oyamada that would start the ceremony has already been eliminated.
The committee is reviewing how to run the event as Kobayashi was responsible for overseeing the schedule for the opening ceremony and that the scandal does not overshadow the concept and message of the show.
The president said she is hopeful that the Olympic games will serve as a symbol of recovery, diversity and harmony, adding that she hopes they will be a success.
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