The director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics was sacked on Thursday for making a Holocaust joke during a comedy event in 1998.
Kentaro Kobayashi was fired only a day before the pandemic-affected Games were supposed to begin with an extravagant ceremony he helped arrange on Friday, the latest in a string of misfortunes for the event.
Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said that Kobayashi used the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust” in the act.
“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his performance, had used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said.
Hashimoto apologized for Kobayashi’s previous statement.
“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.”
Kobayashi meanwhile issued a statement responding to his dismissal.
“Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it,” it said.