Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Fired over Joke About "Massacring Jews"

Kentaro Kobayashi has been let go just one day before the event is set to kick off

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jul 22, 2021

The downward spiral of the Tokyo Olympics continues, as now the creative director of the opening ceremony has been fired — just one day before the big event.

Organizers announced on Thursday (July 22) that Kentaro Kobayashi has been removed from his post after a video emerged of him making a joke about the Holocaust during a comedy sketch he did in the '90s.

Kobyashi — a popular comedian in Japan — participated in a skit in 1998 where he joked about "massacring Jews" and said "Let's play Holocaust" while cutting up human figures made out of paper, according to various media reports.

"We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," said Olympic Organizing Committee president Seiko Hashimoto, according to the Associated Press. "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."

Kobayashi himself said in a statement: "I understand that my choice of words was wrong, and regret it. I apologize to those who felt displeasure."

In addition to serving as the creative director of the opening ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday (July 23), Kobayashi was also to lead the closing ceremony — if the Olympics even get that far.

The news is the latest of many scandals surrounding the Tokyo Olympics. Just the other day, Keigo Oyamada — best known as Corneliusstepped down as the composer for the Games' opening ceremony after old interviews of him emerged where he bragged about bullying disabled classmates.

It's also worth noting that this isn't the first creative director of the opening ceremony to exit the post — in March, Hiroshi Sasaki resigned after he compared a popular plus-sized Japanese comedian to a pig. The former president o the Tokyo organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, was also replaced after he made some seriously sexist comments about women.

As of press time, 87 Olympics participants have tested positive for COVID-19, though the numbers of Japanese citizens — most of which are opposed to the Olympics — exposed to the virus as a result of the Games pushing forward is unclear.

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