Another start among the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics. The person in charge of the opening ceremony was dismissed from his post because of a joke on the Holocaust dating back more than twenty years, those responsible for the event announced Thursday (July 22nd).
“We learned that during a past artistic performance”, Kentaro Kobayashi “Had used mocking language about a tragic historical fact”Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters. ” The organizing committee has decided to remove Mr. Kobayashi from his post. “
The consequences of his ouster for the opening ceremony on Friday night were still uncertain. “We are still thinking about how we can ensure the ceremony tomorrow”, confided Mme Hashimoto, specifying that she wanted to draw conclusions “As quickly as possible”.
Filmed in 1998
In a comedy sketch that aired on video in 1998, Mr. Kobayashi and another comedian impersonated a famous host duo of a Japanese children’s television show. Pretending to imagine a DIY activity where it would be a question of creating and installing small paper dolls, Mr. Kobayashi had told 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.
This sketch, “That I had written, contained lines which were extremely inappropriate”, apologized in a statement Mr. Kobayashi, a personality of the entertainment world in Japan. “It goes back to a time when I couldn’t get people to laugh the way I wanted to, and I think I tried to get people’s attention in a thoughtless way. “
The Simon-Wiesenthal center for the fight against anti-Semitism and racism condemned on Wednesday, in a statement, the past remarks of Mr. Kobayashi, denouncing his “Malicious and anti-Semitic jokes”. “No one, however creative, has the right to make fun of the victims of the genocide [commis par les] Nazis’, wrote the organization, judging that “Any association of this person with the Tokyo Games would insult the memory of six million Jews and cruelly mock the Paralympic Games”. In other skits, Mr. Kobayashi also joked about people with disabilities.
This dismissal comes just a few days after the departure of Keigo Oyamada, composer of one of the musical themes of the opening ceremony. The Japanese artist, known by the pseudonym Cornelius, had been pinned down because of old interviews he gave in the 1990s. In them he lightly recounted how he persecuted disabled classmates in his youth.
In March, another artistic director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, Hiroshi Sasaki, had also resigned for having suggested internally to dress up a curvy Japanese actress and social media star, Naomi Watanabe, as a pig. In February, it was the President of the Olympics and former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who had to step down over sexist remarks that sparked a global outcry.
These cascading scandals have further tarnished the image of the Tokyo Olympics, already unpopular with a large part of the Japanese population who fear that the event will worsen the health crisis in the country.
Due to the restrictions in the face of the pandemic and the closed doors decided for almost all Olympic competitions, barely 950 “VIP” spectators are expected to attend the opening ceremony on Friday in the new Olympic stadium in Tokyo.