Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Axed Over Holocaust Joke

Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been fired one day before the start of the Games for a decades-old Holocaust joke.

The Olympic rings are seen at Tokyo's Odaiba district.

Image via Getty/Behrouz MEHRI

The Olympic rings are seen at Tokyo's Odaiba district.

Kentaro Kobayashi, director for the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Tokyo, has been fired for a Holocaust joke he made over two decades ago, The Daily Beast reports.

Olympic Organizing Committee president Seiko Hashimoto confirmed his dismissal in a press conference Thursday, saying the commission was made aware of the resurfaced video containing the joke two days prior.

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

In 1998, Kobayashi was one-half of a comedic duo that called themselves the Ramens when they proposed the “let’s massacre Jewish people game” as part of their routine. Hashimoto vowed to “review the entire program” as Kobayashi becomes the latest official associated with this year’s Games to come under fire over past wrongdoings.  

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada stepped down after it was discovered that he bragged in the 1990s about forcing a disabled boy to eat his own feces and masturbate in front of others. The arrangement that Oyamada had composed for tomorrow’s opening ceremony has been pulled. Olympic Organizing Committee president Yoshiro Mori resigned in February over sexist comments, and Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director of the opening ceremony, resigned the following month when it was revealed that he intended on publicly shaming a plus-size fashion designer. 

The fallout of a number of Tokyo Olympics officials behind-the-scenes comes at a time where the enduring threat of the pandemic plays out right before people’s eyes. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC doesn’t plan on avoiding coverage of local opposition to the Games or the obstacles that everyone involved must endure to everything to run as smooth as possible. 

“Ultimately, I hope that the focus of the story will turn to the athletes — they are the focus of the Olympics — but we certainly won’t ignore the circumstances of where we find ourselves here,” NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt said. 

Tokyo, however, isn’t helping out the cause as The Daily Beast reports that Olympic volunteers are being given just one shot of the vaccine out of fear that the side effects from a second dose will prevent them from working throughout the duration of the Games. 

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