The director of the Olympic opening ceremony was fired on Thursday over a joke he made about the holocaust over 20 years ago, the Olympic Organizing Committee announced.
Comedian and opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been accused of making jokes about the holocaust in a 1998 comedy act which used the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust,” the Associated Press reported.
“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world,” the Tokyo Organizing Committee said in a press release.
BREAKING: Kentaro Kobayashi, creative director of Olympics Opening Ceremony, dismissed for making fun of the Holocaust in his comedic act. Per Seiko Hashimoto at press briefing now
— Motoko Rich (@motokorich) July 22, 2021
Kobayashi acknowledges that the jokes were offensive and disrespectful, he said in a statement, The New York Times reported.
“I understand that my choice of words was wrong, and regret it,” he said in the statement. “I apologize to those who felt displeasure.”
Kobayashi is the third person involved in organizing the ceremonies to leave amid controversy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Musical director Keigo Oyamada resigned Monday after he admitted in an old magazine interview to bullying his disabled classmates, the New York Times reported. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Listen To Women That Much’: Tokyo Olympics Chief Apologizes After Sexist Comment)
Sasaki recommended dressing up Japanese actress Naomi Watanabe in a pink costume and called her an “Olympig” during the opening ceremony, according to the WSJ.
Kobayashi received immediate criticism soon after videos of his comedic skit surfaced, the AP reported.
“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social actions director at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles based human rights group, told the Japan Times.
“The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities,” Cooper said. “Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” Cooper said.
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