Olympics opening ceremony director sacked for making Holocaust joke in 1998

Kentaro Kobayashi

A day before the Olympics opening ceremony is to be held, the director,  Kentaro Kobayashi has been removed.

Kobayashi was sacked after a 1990s video emerged in which he appears to be making jokes about the Holocaust.

The former comedian and another comedian are being highly criticized for a sketch they performed 23 years ago. The sketch showcases Kobayashi and his colleague pretending to be children’s entertainers.

According to the Associated Press, in the sketch he turns to his colleague, referring to some paper dolls, saying they are “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust'”.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga described the comments as “outrageous and unacceptable”, while Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the US-based Holocaust research body Simon Wiesenthal Center, said: “Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide.”

Kobayashi also issued a statement responding to his dismissal, saying he regrets the sketch.

“Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it.”

Kobayashi will not affect the opening ceremony, according to the Japanese Prime Minister.