TOKYO — As if the most chaotic Olympics ever needed more controversy before they officially begin here on Friday, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee dismissed its Opening Ceremony director less than 48 hours before the event, citing comedic comments that the director made over two decades ago about the Holocaust.
Kentaro Kobayashi, a Japanese comedian, had been in charge of the Opening Ceremony since 2019. In recent days, as the Tokyo Olympics get set to begin, news media called attention to a 1998 comedic act in which Kobayashi made light of Nazi Germany’s mass murder of millions of Jews.
Since the revelations swept through Japanese media earlier this week, Jewish groups denounced Kobayashi’s “anti-Semitic jokes.”
On Thursday, at a nearly hour-long news conference, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto announced that Kobayashi had been dismissed, leaving organizers to frantically “review” the Opening Ceremony’s entire script. It is scheduled to begin Friday at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m ET) at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
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