Organizers announced Thursday that they had fired the director of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony after learning that he was making fun of the Holocaust in a comedy routine. Director, comedian and theater director Kentaro Kobayashi is dismissed a little more than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the ceremony on Friday.
“We apologize deeply for any insult and fear this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympics, as well as the citizens of Japan and the world,” the organizing committee said in a statement.
Kobayashi said in a statement issued by Tokyo 2020 that he remembered making the joke in question in 1998 and regretted it shortly afterwards. “I understand my choice of words was wrong and I’m sorry,” he wrote in Japanese. “I am sorry.” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at a news conference that organizers are reviewing the entire opening ceremony schedule after Kobayashi’s dismissal. Hashimoto said they understood the joke Wednesday morning and regretted not hearing about it sooner. “The overall responsibility rests with me,” he said.
Former organizing committee chairman Yoshiro Mori also resigned earlier this year after making sexist comments about women. Organizers announced Thursday that the crowd at the opening ceremony will be limited to about 950 people, including VIPs, government officials and foreign dignitaries.
First Lady Jill Biden will be in attendance as head of the US delegation and committee. Paralympic has said it expected about 230 of its athletes to march during the ceremony.
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