The Chronicle Herald (Metro)

Olympics director fired over Holocaust joke


Tokyo Olympics organizers have fired the opening ceremony director on the eve of the event after reports emerged of a past joke he had made about the Holocaust, while media said former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a strong advocate of the Games, would also not attend.

The latest in a series of embarrassm­ents for the Tokyo organizers comes just days after a well-known musician was forced to step down as composer for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and abusive behaviour surfaced.

Earlier this year, the head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee resigned after making sexist remarks, and the Tokyo Olympics creative head followed after he made derogatory comments about a popular Japanese female entertaine­r.

Tokyo Games organizers fired Kentaro Kobayashi on Thursday over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of a comedy act in the 1990s that recently resurfaced in domestic media.

“I offer my deep apology for causing trouble and worry for many people concerned as well as Tokyo residents and Japanese people when the opening ceremony is almost upon us,” said a sombre Seiko Hashimoto, who heads the organizing committee.

Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internatio­nal Jewish human rights organizati­on, released a statement saying Kobayashi's associatio­n with the Olympics would “insult the memory” of the 6 million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said comments by the show director were “outrageous and unacceptab­le” but that the opening ceremony should proceed as planned.

Kobayashi apologized for his past comments in a statement.

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