New scandal around the Tokyo Olympics which opens on Friday: the person responsible for the opening ceremony was dismissed from his post because of a joke on the Holocaust dating back more than 20 years, the organizers announced Thursday. “We learned that during a past artistic performance”, Kentaro Kobayashi “had used mocking language about a tragic historical fact”Tokyo-2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters. “The organizing committee has decided to remove Mr. Kobayashi from his post”, she added.
In a comedy sketch that aired on video in 1998, Mr. Kobayashi and another comedian imitated a famous host duo of a Japanese children’s television show. Pretending to imagine a DIY activity where it would be a question of creating and installing small paper dolls, Mr. Kobayashi had told his partner: “The ones from the last time you said, ‘Let’s play the Holocaust'”, triggering laughter from the audience.
The duo then joked by imagining the anger of the producer of the show because of this reference to the Holocaust. This sketch “that I had written contained lines which were extremely inappropriate”, apologized in a statement Mr. Kobayashi, a personality of the entertainment world in Japan.
The dismissal comes just days after the resignation of Keigo Oyamada, composer of one of the musical themes of the opening ceremony, who was caught up by old interviews he gave in the 1990s, where he lightly recounted how he had persecuted disabled classmates in his youth.
In March, another artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, Hiroshi Sasaki, had also resigned for having suggested internally to disguise as pig a Japanese actress and star of social networks with assumed curves, Naomi Watanabe.
And in February, the president of Tokyo-2020, former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, was also forced to step down for sexist remarks that sparked a global outcry. These cascading scandals have further tarnished the image of the Tokyo Olympics, already unpopular with a large part of the Japanese population fearing that the event would worsen the health crisis in the country.