Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony director fired for past Holocaust comments

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Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games attends a March news conference in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Kimimasa Mayama – Pool/Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the director of the Games’ opening ceremony was fired Thursday over his past comments about the Holocaust during a comedy performance.

Why it matters: Kentaro Kobayashi’s removal comes a day before the opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games was due to start. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said at a news conference Thursday, “How we’re going to handle the ceremony is currently being discussed.”

Driving the news: Hashimoto confirmed earlier Kobayashi’s dismissal over a 1998 clip, shared online, in which a man identified as the now-former opening ceremony director jokes about the Nazi atrocity in a skit titled, “Let’s play Holocaust.”

  • “We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said, per AP.
  • “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.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with further comment from Hashimoto.

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