One of the artistic directors of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled for tomorrow, has resigned today after criticism received for joking about the Holocaust years ago.
Kentaro Kobayashi, a Japanese comedian and theater director, has resigned from his position as director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo as a result of the protests generated by his “inappropriate” comments, the organizing committee announced at a press conference on Thursday.
The umpteenth scandal that sparks the Games comes one day before its inauguration, and takes place two days after it the composer also resigned on behalf of the music that she was going to be used at the ceremony, after another controversy over an old interview in which she admitted to having bullied disabled people at school.
Kobayashi submitted his resignation after several Jewish organizations issued protests in recent days about a performance by the Japanese artist dating from 1998, in which he said: “We are going to play the holocaust.”
The 48-year-old Japanese comedian, known above all for a comedy duo of which he was part until 2009, asked today apologies for “your extremely inappropriate expressions” which he did “when he was very young”, through a statement distributed by the Tokyo 2020 organization.
Kobayashi regretted “not being able to make people smile” and “disrespecting and causing discomfort”, and assumed that the best option was to “stop working” for the Tokyo Games.
The president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, stated that Tokyo 2020 has accepted the resignation of the artistic director just one day before the opening ceremony because all the personnel involved in the preparation of the Olympic appointment “must be immaculate.” Organizers “are now discussing how to manage the opening ceremony” and hope “to reach a conclusion soon,” Hashimoto said.
Kobayashi was in charge of the general supervision of the three sections that will feature the opening ceremony.
Kobayashi was in charge of the general supervision of the three sections that will have the opening ceremony of the Games this Friday and was in charge of “giving coherence” to all parties, according to the organizers.
Besides the musical composer known in Japan as Cornelius, who resigned on Monday, in previous months the former president of the organizing committee also resigned, Yoshiro Mori, after some controversial sexist commentsas well as another creative director who suggested portraying a popular Japanese actress as a pig at the opening ceremony.
“It is something that should never have happened. These incidents have had a tremendous impact, so this time we have decided to have a quick reaction,” Hashimoto said when asked about the incessant list of problems for the organizers.