The day before the opening ceremony, the organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo have the last scandal for the time being.

Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto announced Thursday that Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the opening event, had been sacked.

A video had previously appeared in which the now 48-year-old Kobayashi is said to have made fun of the murder of Jews in the Third Reich as a comedian in 1998.

Patrick Welter

Correspondent for business and politics in Japan, based in Tokyo.

  • Follow I follow

In the short video, one of the participants says, among other things: "Let's play the Holocaust". Hashimoto read out a statement from Kobayashi at a press conference in which he apologized for the "extremely inappropriate" statement. In retrospect, he understood that that was wrong. There were also voices on Japanese social media who thought the excitement was excessive because the sketch had been misinterpreted.

The revelation immediately led to protests, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

"Nobody, no matter how creative, has the right to make fun of the victims of the Nazi genocide," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Wiesenthal Center.

In front of journalists in Tokyo, Hashimoto and the organizer of the games, Toshiro Muto, found it difficult to explain the incident.

Muto said that the video was probably not seen when Kobayashis was checked.

He announced that the program of the opening ceremony should now be reviewed again.

Abused disabled classmates

For the organizers, this is not the first incident of this type in which inappropriate comments or inappropriate behavior have resulted in resignation or expulsion.

Just earlier this week, the composer of the music for the opening ceremony, Keigo Oyamada, resigned.

The 52-year-old musician had previously admitted and apologized for mistreating reports from disabled classmates while at school.

A report from the 1990s had previously surfaced in which Oyamada reported on his behavior at the time.

The president of the organizing committee, Hashimoto, admitted on Thursday that the composer was parted with too late.

After the first request for apology from Oyamada, who is also known by the stage name Cornelius, the organizers let the matter rest for the time being.

As early as March, the games had lost the then creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki. Sasaki resigned after he made an unkind remark about popular entertainer and fashion idol Naomi Watanabe. Last spring, the advertising expert suggested in a “brainstorming” round to collect ideas online that the plump Watanabe could appear as the “Olympic pig”.

In English, “Olympig” is a play on words with the word Olympic.

At that time, Hashimoto stated that he had initially toyed with the idea of ​​accepting an apology, but then accepted the resignation.

Sasaki had only taken over the creative direction of the festivities in December after the organizers wanted simpler games and his predecessor had given up the position.

Mori playing softball in Fukushima

Even before Sasaki, the then President of the Organizing Committee, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, resigned in February after a remarks that were derogatory to women.

At its core, the 83-year-old Mori had complained that women talked too much in committee meetings.

The connection between the influential politician and the implementation of the games has not been broken. On Wednesday he was spotted playing the opening softball tournament in Azuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Hashimoto justified this with the fact that Mori had ensured that some softball games would take place in Fukushima, which was particularly hard hit ten years ago by the tsunami disaster and the Gau at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. By visiting the stadium as an observer, Mori wanted to underline his affection for the region, said Hashimoto.