The Tokyo Olympics has been hit with another wave of controversy, as the director of the opening ceremony has been fired over a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.
The IOC fired Kentaro Kobayashi on Thursday, a day before the start of the Olympics. Kobayashi was let go “after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light,” the organizing committee told NBC in a statement. Kobayashi reportedly said, “let’s play Holocaust.”
“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, had used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Seiko Hashimoto, the organizing committee president, said.
“We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country.”
Earlier this week, Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, who composed the opening and closing ceremonies of this year’s Olympics, resigned after old interviews from the 1990s resurfaced where he admitted to bullying classmates with disabilities while at school, CNN reported.
In a statement obtained by NBC, Kobayashi said, “Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it.”