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Olympic Opening Ceremony Creative Director Fired for Mocking Holocaust in Past Act

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2021

Zhu Yaozhong/VCG via Getty Images

Only days before the event, officials for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have fired Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director for the opening ceremony. 

According to Motoko Rich of the New York Times, organizers in Japan announced Thursday morning, local time, that Kobayashi was let go after a past comedy skit in which he made light of the Holocaust surfaced. Tokyo Olympics CEO Toshiro Muto added that plans for the opening ceremony would be reviewed, but it was later announced in a statement that no changes would be made to the event.

According to Blake Montgomery of the Daily Beast, Kobayashi seemed to refer to the Holocaust as a "let's massacre Jewish people game" during a performance in the 1990s.

Kobayashi is the third member of the opening ceremony leadership to face scrutiny of late.

Hiroshi Sasaki resigned as the creative director for the ceremony in March after making a derogatory comment about Japanese entertainer Naomi Watanabe. Earlier this week, Keigo Oyamada's decision to step down as the showcase's composer stemmed from past comments he made about bullying former classmates.

The issues with the opening ceremony leadership have added to questions surrounding the Games, which were delayed by a full year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now happening amid a pandemic-related state of emergency in Japan.

Muto has acknowledged the possibility of canceling the Games altogether if COVID-19 cases related to the Games continue to rise. On Tuesday, the number of positive COVID-19 results reached 68.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin Friday at 6:55 a.m. ET, which doesn't leave Olympic officials much time in the event plans need to be altered.

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