Olympics ceremony director sacked over historical Holocaust joke

The director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics has been sacked after historical footage showed him making a joke about the Holocaust.

Japanese comedian Kentaro Kobayashi was heard uttering the line in footage which was shared across social media in Japan earlier this week.

The footage is from a 1998 comedy sketch in which Kobayashi says the line: “Let’s play Holocaust”, according to AFP.

The organising committee for the Tokyo Olympics swiftly fired him from his role as director of the opening ceremony for the Games.

Its president, Seiko Hashimoto, stated: “We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy.

“We deeply apologise 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.”

Kobayashi is a member of the Rahmens owarai comedy duo in Japan. He is also an actor and comic book artist.

A Jewish global human rights organisation, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, condemned the comments made by Kobayashi.

SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, stated: “Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide … 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.”

Keigo Oyamada, who composed music that was to be used during the ceremony, resigned earlier this week. It had emerged that he had previously bullied classmates, including those with disabilities, then bragged about it in magazines.

In addition, the former head of the organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, resigned back in February after making sexist comments.

The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics begins on Friday at 12pm BST. The Games themselves begin the following day.

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