Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto announced the news a day before the Olympics’ July 23 Opening Ceremony.
What We Know:
- The organizing committee dismissed director Kentaro Kobayashi due to a joke about the Holocaust made during a 1998 comedy act. Throughout his performance, Kobayashi includes the use of the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”
- Hashimoto stated that when the committee learned Kobayashi used a phrase mocking a historical tragedy, they were extremely disappointed. He also apologized for “causing such a development” just a day before the Olympics began; Hashimoto proceeded to express remorse for troubling the involved parties and people across Japan. After the news was released, footage of Kobayashi’s skit appeared on the internet.
- Many expressed disdain at the sketch. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said nobody holds the right to mock victims of Nazi genocide. Cooper further mentioned how Nazis gassed disabled Germans, stating that any association of Kobayashi with the Tokyo Olympics would mock the Paralympics and insults the memory of 6 million Jews.
- The 2021 Tokyo Olympics has been at the center of many scandals. These include banning Namibian female athletes for testosterone levels, removing Sha’Carri Richardson for marijuana, and more. According to Hashimoto, the postponed Games were supposed to send a positive message; however, the many incidents will give the Tokyo event a negative image.
- In addition, Japan faces global criticism for proceeding with the Olympics against medical experts’ advice. Recently, Japan declared a state of emergency due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. However, ESPN reports the country partially feels pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC); if the Games were not held, the IOC would lose an estimated $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights. Alongside this, government audits suggest this year’s Olympics cost more than $15.4 billion, with all but $6.7 billion being public money.
The Tokyo Olympics will continue until August 8.