Olympics opening ceremony Director sacked over his remarks about the Holocaust

Many of the events are taking place without spectators. Pic: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Network

The director of the Olympic opening ceremony has been sacked after making Holocaust-related remarks.

Kentaro Kobayashi made the comments during a comedy act in 1998, and included the words "Let's play Holocaust"

Mr. Kobayashi's comments resurfaced in news pieces ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, and organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto announced the comedian, actor, and theatre director's dismissal on Thursday morning.

"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." the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, said.

It's not the first time a negative headline has been linked to the Games' opening ceremony in Tokyo, which was postponed from last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

One of the show's composers had to resign earlier this week after boasting in magazine interviews about harassing his peers.

The inaugural ceremony is expected to draw less than 950 people, including only about 15 world leaders, according to Japanese media.

Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, is slated to attend, although former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was instrumental in Tokyo's selection as the host city, will not.

Team GB has also picked its flagbearers for the ceremony, breaking with convention by naming both a female and a male athlete.

Hannah Mills, a sailor, and Mohamed Sbihi, a rower, were picked as Olympic and Team GB athletes who exhibit pride, responsibility, respect, and solidarity.

"It is the greatest honor of my career," Mills, who will defend her women's 470 championship partner Eilidh McIntyre, said. "I hope more than ever before that this Games can lift our country and deliver some incredible sporting moments to inspire the nation."

"It will be really special and will complete my Olympic puzzle: I've won a medal, been to the closing ceremony but now to actually turn up at an opening ceremony and be at the head of the team alongside Hannah will be a lifetime memory that I will never forget." Sbihi, a gold medalist in the men's fours almost five years ago, said.

Meanwhile, 12 new COVID-19 cases were verified among athletes and staff at the athletes' village, bringing the total number of cases at the Games to above 90.

A Dutch skateboarder and a Chilean who was scheduled to compete in Taekwondo, as well as six contractors and four Games-related workers, are among them.

Publish : 2021-07-22 12:40:00

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