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Tokyo Olympics

Director of Olympic opening ceremony fired for past jokes about the Holocaust

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee announced on Thursday that it has fired the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, after jokes he made about the Holocaust resurfaced.

Kobayashi is a comedian, and Japanese media is reporting that in 1998, he wrote a script that made light of the genocide, which included the line, "Let's play Holocaust." This is unacceptable, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement, and "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."

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, said Kobayashi "used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," and the committee "deeply" apologized 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." The opening ceremony is set for Friday night. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and a rise in cases in Japan, there will be no spectators.