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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Sacked Over Holocaust Joke

The decision came after a video surfaced of Kentaro Kobayashi making jokes about the Holocaust.

TOKYO — The International Olympic Committee has dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi from his role as director of the team, creating the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for making a Holocaust joke.

The decision came after a video surfaced of Kobayashi, a former comedian, making jokes in the past about the Holocaust.

“Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony creative team member Kobayashi Kentaro was dismissed from his post after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “Following this, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee relieved Kobayashi of his role as a member of the team.” 

“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.”

“As the Ambassador of Israel to Japan and as a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I was shocked to hear about the anti-Semitic remarks made in the past by the famous comedian Kentaro Kobayashi and now a director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020,” tweeted Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador of Israel to Japan. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the human rights organization to protect the rights of the Jews, denounced the remarks by Kobayashi. 

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper in a press release.

“The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics.”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 19 accepted Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada’s resignation from the creative team for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020.

“The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee believes that Oyamada’s actions were absolutely unacceptable,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “In light of his sincere apology, we expressed a willingness to allow Oyamada to continue his work on preparations in the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony.” 

Oyamada’s resignation follows days of controversy over his confessions in magazines published in the 1990s in which he boasted about bullying people in his childhood. Oyamada was in charge of composing some of the music for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Better known by his stage name Cornelius, Oyamada gave those unpopular two interviews to Japanese music magazines in 1994 and 1995, in which he described inflicting horrific abuse on fellow students at school. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)