Tokyo Opening Ceremony Director Fired For Historical Holocaust Joke

by : Cameron Frew on : 22 Jul 2021 07:30
Tokyo Opening Ceremony Director Fired For Historical Holocaust JokePA Images

The director of this year’s Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony has been sacked after previous jokes about the Holocaust resurfaced. 

The games have already been marred with problems, whether it’s the chief of the organising committee refusing to rule out cancelling the event altogether, a composer resigning after his past bullying of a disabled child, or competitors like Team GB’s Amber Hill being forced to withdraw due to testing positive for COVID-19.


Kentaro Kobayashi, tasked with leading the Olympics’ opening ceremony this Friday, July 23, became the subject of controversy after a 1998 TV skit in which he joked about a game called ‘Let’s play massacre the Jews’ did the rounds on Japanese social media.

The clip dated back to when the comedian was one half of the Rahmens duo, known for their series The Japanese Tradition, and was intended as a parody of an education programme.

As per The Guardian, Kobayashi issued in an apology in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, admitting he’d gone for ‘cheap laughs’ as a young comedian. ‘It should never be the job of an entertainer to make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my choice of words at the time was wrong, and I regret it. I would like to apologise for making people feel uncomfortable. I am very sorry,’ he said.


Kobayashi’s sacking has also been confirmed by the organising committee. ‘In the short time remaining before the opening ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offence 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,’ its statement read.

Seiko Hashimoto, the organising committee president, apologised 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.’

Tokyo Olympics. (PA Images)PA Images

He also said the committee was ‘currently investigating how to conduct tomorrow’s opening ceremony’ without Kobayashi. The ceremony will also be held without spectators to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

‘We are going to have the opening ceremony tomorrow and, yes, I am sure there are a lot of people who are not feeling easy about the opening of the games. But we are going to open the games tomorrow under this difficult situation,’ Hashimoto added, as per AP.

‘We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message. Toward the very end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image toward Tokyo 2020,’ he said.

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: News, Japan, Now, Olympics, Sport, Tokyo Olympics


The Guardian and 1 other
  1. The Guardian

    Tokyo 2020: director of opening ceremony sacked over 1998 Holocaust joke

  2. AP

    Olympic opening ceremony director fired for Holocaust joke