Opening ceremony creative director resigns over Holocaust joke


TOKYO – Just one day before the opening ceremony of the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics, the organizers of the Games fired the ceremony’s creative director Kentaro Kobayashi after video footage of him making fun of the Holocaust in a 1990s comedy act emerged.

At a press conference on Thursday, Seiko Hashimoto said that after a series of scandals that plagued the Games and especially the creative team of the opening ceremony, his voice Wednesday, he learned of Mr. Kobayashi’s joke routine. “Murdering the Jews” in a skit while imitating the act of cutting human figures out of paper. He said the organizing committee had decided to dismiss him “immediately”.

Mr. Kobayashi said in a statement that he regretted doing the routine and “aims to create comedies that don’t harm others”.

“I understand that my choice of words was wrong and I regret it,” the statement said. “I apologize for the inconvenience”

The organizing committee said in an official statement that Mr. Kobayashi “made fun of a painful historical fact in the past” and apologized “for causing problems and concerns to many stakeholders and residents of Tokyo and Japan”.

The swift decision to dismiss Mr. Kobayashi was in contrast to the resignation earlier this week. Keigo Oyamada A composer who wrote music for the inaugural ceremony has emerged on social media after he admitted to severe bullying and abuses against his disabled classmates, after quoting interviews he gave in the 1990s.

Mr. Oyamada initially apologized and was apparently going to keep his job before a widespread campaign on social media prompted him to resign. “We should have fired Mr. Oyamada sooner,” Ms. Hashimoto said.

Mr. Kobayashi is the second creative director to step down at the opening ceremony. in March, Hiroshi Sasaki resigns After a magazine revealed that he looked like a pig in asking a popular comedian and plus-size fashion designer to attend the ceremony. Mr. Sasaki’s resignation came only weeks later. Yoshiro MoriThe former chairman of the Tokyo organizing committee also resigned. sexist comments about women.

On Twitter, some people questioned why Mr. Kobayashi was fired for an old routine, but others said his dismissal was not enough. “The dismissal of Kentaro Kobayashi is a quick measure after the discovery of a past Holocaust sketch,” one wrote. banner. “But at tomorrow’s inauguration, are they going to do as this man directs? Is it resolved because he was sacked?”

When asked if she regretted going ahead with the Games amid the scandals unfolding at the Olympic Village and rising coronavirus cases, Ms. Hashimoto admitted that Tokyo organizers are “facing every possible problem”. However, he said, “We want you to remember Tokyo for overcoming many problems and achieving success.”

Hikari Hida and Makiko Inoue contributed to the reporting


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