Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed from his post just a day before the opening ceremony for the Summer Games to be held in Japan.
The organizing committee confirmed Kobayashi’s departure in a statement. He explained that the creative director was removed from his post “after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event came to light.”
“In the little time left before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our sincere apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and of the world, ”the Committee said.
Kobayashi, known for his work as a comedian, actor and director, appeared in 1998 as part of the comedy duo Rahmens. During a skit, Kobayashi and Jin Katagiri parodied the animators of an educational program for children. Kobayashi referred to some cutouts of paper dolls, describing them as “those from the time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust,” according to the AFP news agency.
His remarks were greeted with laughter from the audience.
Kobayashi issued an apology telling local news, “I’m in the business of entertaining people. I should never make people uncomfortable. I understand that my insane choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I regret it.
His departure comes days after one of the event’s composers, Keigo Oyamada, offered his resignation when an old magazine interview resurfaced in which he admitted to bullying other children at school. , including a classmate with learning difficulties.
The committee called Oyamada’s actions “absolutely unacceptable”. A four-minute segment of the show where his music was to be played has now been cut.
There is no confirmation on the impact of Kobayashi’s departure on the program or if changes can be expected to minimize his contribution.
The Opening Ceremony marks the start of the Olympic Games and is generally a high production value spectacle, showcasing the cultural wonders of the host country and setting the tone for a fortnight of sporting excellence.
This year’s show is expected to be a more subdued affair, Reuters reports. The postponed pandemic matches have been launched challenge after challenge, with several athletes testing positive for COVID and Tokyo reporting an increasing number of cases.