Tokyo Olympic organizing committee has fired the director of the opening ceremony due to a joke he made about the Holocaust during a comedy show in 1998.
By Maryam Razzaq
“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 Seiko Hashimoto.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a human rights group criticized Kobayashi’s comedy about the Holocaust.
“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,” Rabi Cooper said.
Hashimoto stated that Kobayashi ridiculed “painful facts of history” in a comedy show video from 1998. Kobayashi’s dismissal is only the latest scandal that has surrounded the Olympic Games.
“It should never be the job of an entertainer to make people feel uncomfortable, I understand that my choice of words at the time was wrong, and I regret it. I would like to apologise for making people feel uncomfortable. I am very sorry,” said Kentaro Kobayashi
Tokyo 2020 was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and since then has witnessed three men involved in the Games to step down this year after a series of scandals.
In February, Yoshiro Mori, head of the organizing committee stepped down after making inappropriate comments about women. He was accusing of saying that women talked too much and that any meetings that he had with female board directors would take a lot of unnecessary time.
In March, Hiroshi Sasaki, Olympics creative chief quit after making comments about plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe appearing as a “Olympig”.
Finally, earlier this week, a composer part of the team creating ceremony music for the Olympics quit after news broke that he bullied school peers with disabilities.
The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for tomorrow, but it will be held without public spectators to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Though, some officials, guests and media will attend to cover the Games.
Japan has been forced to make the difficult decision to go ahead with the Olympics despite the ongoing pandemic and advice from medical professionals mostly due to pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as they may face an estimated loss of US $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights income if the Games do not occur.
“We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message. Towards the end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image towards Tokyo 2020,” said Hashimoto.
All thought there have been a lot of negatives surrounding the Olympics, the games are a symbol of hope and a welcomed distraction from the COVID-19 dominating the headlines.