The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics said Thursday that they had fired the director of the Olympic’s opening ceremony after discovering that he made light of the Holocaust in a comedy act.

Kentaro Kobayashi, the director, comic, and theatrical director, was fired less than 24 hrs before the event was due to begin on Friday.

The organizing committee issued a statement saying that they express our sincere apologies for any offense or pain caused by this issue to the many individuals engaged in the Olympic Games, as well as to the residents of Japan and the rest of the globe.

Kobayashi said in a statement published by Tokyo 2020 that he recalls making the joke in 1998 and quickly regretted it.

Kobayashi said he acknowledges that his choice of words was incorrect, and he apologizes. He wrote in Japanese. “I apologize.”

Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020, stated during a press conference that organizers are reevaluating the whole program for the opening ceremony in light of Kobayashi’s departure. Hashimoto said that they learned of the prank Wednesday morning and expressed sorrow for not learning about it sooner.

She further said that overall accountability rests with me.

According to the  Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of Kobayashi’s jokes contained the words “let’s play Holocaust,”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper said that anyone, regardless of their creativity, does not have the right to ridicule the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Kobayashi’s departure is the latest in a series of humiliating events for the organizing committee, most notably the team responsible for the opening ceremony.

Keigo Oyamada, a Japanese composer, resigned from the Tokyo 2020 creative team earlier this week in response to criticism over his childhood mistreatment of a student with disabilities. Hiroshi Sasaki, the former artistic director for the Olympics’ opening ceremony, resigned in March after reports that he made sexist comments about a prominent Japanese female entertainer, comparing her to a pig during a brainstorming session.

Yoshiro Mori, the organizing committee’s previous president, also quit earlier this year after making inappropriate comments about women.

The organizers said Thursday that the inaugural event would have a capacity of about 950 persons, including VIPs, government officials, and international dignitaries. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States, will lead the group, and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has said that about 230 of its athletes will march in the event.

The opening ceremony’s content is mostly unknown, although it is anticipated to have a more solemn, grateful tone than previous ceremonies, with COVID-19 likely to be a significant subject.

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