A.The day before the opening ceremony, the organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo have the last scandal for the time being. Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto announced Thursday that Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the opening event, had been sacked. A video had previously surfaced in which the 48-year-old Kobayashi and another comedian made a joke in 1998 about the murder of Jews in the Third Reich.
In the sketch, Kobayashi said, according to media reports, there were still so many human figures cut out of paper from the time they talked about “playing the Holocaust”. The comedian duo tried to poke fun at a children’s series that was popular at the time on Japanese television. The video was deleted from the Internet shortly after Kobayashi’s resignation.
Hashimoto read a statement from Kobayashi at a press conference, in which he apologized for the fact “Extremely inconsiderate” statement. In retrospect, he understood that that was wrong. On the Japanese social media, however, there were also voices who thought the excitement was exaggerated because the sketch had been misinterpreted.
The revelation immediately led to protests, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “Nobody, no matter how creative, has the right to make fun of the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Wiesenthal Center.
In front of journalists in Tokyo, Hashimoto and the organizer of the games, Toshiro Muto, found it difficult to explain the incident. It was said that this video was probably not seen when Kobayashis was checked. Hashimoto took responsibility for this. Muto announced that the program of the opening ceremony should now be re-examined.
Abused disabled classmates
For the organizers, it is not the first incident of this type in which inappropriate remarks or inappropriate behavior have resulted in resignation or expulsion. A composer of music for the opening ceremony, Keigo Oyamada, resigned just earlier this week. The 52-year-old musician had apologized for mistreating handicapped classmates during his school days.
Previously, a report from the 1990s had surfaced in which Oyamada had recounted his behavior at the time without remorse. The president of the organizing committee, Hashimoto, admitted on Thursday that the composer was parted with too late. After the first apology from Oyamada, who is also known by the stage name Cornelius, the organizers wanted to let the matter rest for now.
In March, the games had already lost the then creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies, Hiroshi Sasaki. Sasaki resigned after he made an unkind remark about popular entertainer and fashion idol Naomi Watanabe. Last spring, the advertising expert suggested in a “brainstorming” round to collect ideas online that the plump Watanabe could appear as the “Olympic pig”.
In English, “Olympig” is a play on words with the word Olympic. At that time, Hashimoto had, by his own admission, initially toyed with the idea of accepting an apology, but then accepted the resignation. Sasaki had only taken over the creative direction of the festivities in December after the organizers wanted simpler games and his predecessor had given up the position.
Mori playing softball in Fukushima
Even before Sasaki, the then President of the Organizing Committee, the former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, resigned in February after a remarks that were derogatory to women. At its core, the 83-year-old Mori had complained that women talked too much in committee meetings.
The connection of the influential politician with the implementation of the games has not broken off. On Wednesday he was spotted playing the opening softball tournament in Azuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Hashimoto justified this with the fact that Mori had ensured that some softball games would take place in Fukushima, which was particularly hard hit ten years ago by the tsunami disaster and the Gau at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. By visiting the stadium as an observer, Mori wanted to underline his affection for the region, said Hashimoto.