Olympics opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, has been sacked on the eve of the event in the latest in a string of scandals to hit this year’s Games.
Old footage of Mr Kobayashi recently emerged where he appears to be making jokes about the Holocaust, prompting his dismissal.
My Kobayashi’s removal from his position as ceremony boss of the Tokyo Olympics means that three men involved in the games have been forced to step down since the beginning of the year.
Olympics’ creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down in March on the back of his comment that plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe could appear as an “Olympig” followed by head of organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, quitting due to his “inappropriate” remarks about women.
Here’s what you need to know about Kentaro Kobayashi and his scandal:
Why was Kentaro Kobayashi sacked?
In a clip from 23 years ago, the former comedian Mr Kobayashi and another comedian are seen pretending to be children’s entertainers. In the sketch Mr Kobayashi turns to his colleague, referring to some paper dolls, saying they are “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the US-based Holocaust research body Simon Wiesenthal Center, reacted to the clip saying “Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide.”
The ceremony director was strongly criticised for the sketch and dismissed. Mr Kobayashi also issued a statement responding to his dismissal, “Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it.”
Who is Kentaro Kobayashi?
Kentaro Kobayashi is a Japanese comedian,actor, theatre director and manga artist most well-known for directing and acting in “The Japanese Tradition” videos. Kobayashi was assigned the role of Director of this year’s Olympics Opening Ceremony.
After his 1998 comedy sketch surfaced, he was dismissed from the role with Japan’s Olympic chief Seiko Hashimoto stating that the video ridiculed “painful facts of history”.
When does the Tokyo Olympics start?
Tokyo Olympics 2020 is now under way with the hosts Japan winning their softball match on Wednesday. But the opening ceremony will take place on Friday, July 23 – officially kicking off two weeks of competition.
However, after the removal of Mr Kobayashi, organisers are now reassessing how to hold Friday’s event – which will only be attended by 950 people, in order to minimise risks amidst rising Covid cases among athletes and officials.
Speaking of the opening ceremony, Ms Hashimoto said, “With the opening ceremony being so imminent, we apologise for causing concern to those involved in the Olympics, to the citizens of Tokyo and the Japanese public.”