Olympics 2020: the person in charge of the opening ceremony sacked for a joke on the Holocaust

The countdown one day before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, July 22, 2021 Charly TRIBALLEAU AFP

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The artistic director of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, due to take place on Friday, has been removed from his post because of a Holocaust joke dating back more than 20 years, organizers said Thursday.

A new scandal that still taints the Olympic Games already very affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.


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Tokyo (AFP)


 We learned that during a past artistic performance

 " Kentaro Kobayashi " 

used mocking language about a tragic historical fact 

," Tokyo-2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters on Thursday 22 July.

In a comedy sketch that aired on video in 1998, Kentaro Kobayashi and another comedian imitated a famous host duo on a Japanese children's television show.

While pretending to imagine a DIY activity where it would be a question of creating and installing small paper dolls, he had launched to his partner: "The ones from the last time you said: Let's play the Holocaust" ", Triggering laughter from the audience. The duo then joked by imagining the anger of the producer of the show because of this reference to the Holocaust.

The Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee has therefore decided to remove the Director of the Opening Ceremony from his post.

This sketch " 

that I had written contained lines that were extremely inappropriate

 ", apologized in a statement Kentaro Kobayashi, a personality of the world of the spectacle in Japan.

Cascading scandals

This dismissal comes just days after the resignation of Keigo Oyamada, composer of one of the musical themes of the opening ceremony, who was caught up by old interviews he gave in the 1990s, where he lightly recounted how he had persecuted disabled classmates in his youth.

In March, another artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, Hiroshi Sasaki, had also resigned for having suggested internally to disguise as pig a Japanese actress and star of social networks with assumed curves, Naomi Watanabe.

And in February, the president of Tokyo-2020, former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, was also forced to step down for sexist remarks that sparked a global outcry.

Cascading scandals that have further tarnished the image of the Tokyo Olympics, already unpopular with a large part of the Japanese population fearing that the event will worsen the health crisis in the country.





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  • 2020 Olympics

  • Japan