Tokyo Olympics: Director of the Olympics opening ceremony sacked for Holocaust joke

On Thursday, the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony.

On Thursday, the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics fired the director of the opening ceremony for making a Holocaust joke during a comedy show in 1998.

A day ahead of the opening ceremony, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said director Kentaro Kobayashi has been fired. During his comedy act, he allegedly used a Holocaust joke including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”


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

Friday night will mark the opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games. A measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections will be taken so no spectators will be allowed at the ceremony. However, some officials, guests and media will be present. Composer Keigo Oyamada was forced to resign earlier this week after boasting about bullying some of his classmates in magazine interviews. His music was to be used at the ceremony. His music segment will not be used. Social media erupted with criticism immediately after a video and script of Kobayashi’s performance were released. Kobayashi is a former member of the comedy duo Rahmens and is best known overseas for a comedy series based on Japanese culture called ‘The Japanese Tradition’.

While the last-minute scandals come amid public health concerns, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is being criticized for prioritizing the Olympics despite concerns from health organizations. A Holocaust joke by Kobayashi and Oyamada’s resignation was the latest incident to plague the Games. Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori resigned over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki resigned as the opening and closing ceremonies’ creative director for suggesting that a Japanese actress should be dressed like a pig.