Tokyo Olympics ceremony director sacked for Holocaust joke

The organising committee of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has fired a director in charge of the opening ceremony after a video was circulated online of him making jokes about the Holocaust.

In the video, which dates from 1998, former comedian Kentaro Kobayashi and a partner pretend to be a pair of famous children’s TV entertainers.

As they brainstorm an activity involving paper, Kobayashi refers to some paper doll cutouts, describing them as “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust,” sparking laughter from the audience.

The pair then joke about how a television producer was angered by the suggestion of a Holocaust activity.

Following the resurfacing of the video, Kobayashi was ousted from the post of “show director.”

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the committee, told a press conference that it was her “responsibility” that the organization did not conduct sufficient background checks on the director and apologized for the latest scandal.

“We are reviewing the entire ceremony and we are quickly discussing how to hold it. We would like to reach a conclusion as soon as possible,” Hashimoto said.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday slammed the director, calling his remarks “inexcusable,” but said the opening ceremony on Friday should still go ahead as planned.

Kobayashi released a statement apologizing for what he wrote in the comedy script, saying it was “extremely imprudent.”

The 2020 Tokyo Games, postponed for one year due to the pandemic, will be held under the motto of “Unity in Diversity”.