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World of Sport

22nd Jul 2021

Olympics opening ceremony director sacked over Holocaust joke day before Games begin

Danny Jones

He is one of several members to have left the organising committee due to offensive remarks this year

The organising committee for Tokyo 2020 has fired the opening ceremony director on the eve of Games commencing after it emerged that he had made a past joke about the Holocaust.

Kentarō Kobayashi, a 48-year-old playwright and director, was sacked on Thursday over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of a comedy act back in 1998. A clip of the joke recently resurfaced in the media and on social media.

The joke itself revolves around the suggestion that two characters play a game called “let’s play massacre the Jews” – the audience can be clearly heard laughing at the outdated and insensitive skit.

This is just the latest in a series of embarrassments for Tokyo 2020 – which could still well be cancelled altogether – as just days ago, a popular Japanese musician was forced to step down as composer for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and abusive behaviour surfaced.

Moreover, this isn’t even the first individual from the organising committee to depart the Games for inappropriate behaviour. Earlier this year, the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee itself resigned after making sexist remarks, and the creative head followed after he made derogatory comments about a popular Japanese female entertainer.

Kobayashi has apologised for the joke in the past and the new head of the committee, Seiko Hashimoto, issued the following statement after the incident: “I offer my deep apology for causing trouble and worry for many people concerned as well as Tokyo residents and Japanese people when the opening ceremony is almost upon us.”

This year’s Olympics really has got off to a shaky start and, well, it hasn’t even started yet; the increasingly high number of cases being reported in Tokyo only further cast doubt over how the tournament will proceed if it even does.