Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Olympics-Opening ceremony director fired on Tokyo Games eve over Holocaust joke

WorldJul 22, 2021 02:17PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), applauds after presenting Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with the Olympic Order award at the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo, Japan November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyu 2/2

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mari Saito

TOKYO (Reuters) -Tokyo Olympics organisers have fired the opening ceremony director on the eve of the event after reports emerged of a past joke he had made about the Holocaust, while media said former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a strong advocate of the Games, would not attend.

The latest in a series https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-2020-plagued-by-embarrassing-scandals-gaffes-2021-07-22 of embarrassments for the Tokyo organisers comes just days after a well-known musician was forced to step down https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-2020-organisers-want-composer-who-apologised-bullying-stay-2021-07-19 as composer for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and abusive behaviour surfaced.

Earlier this year, the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee resigned after making sexist remarks, and the Tokyo Olympics creative head followed after he made derogatory comments about a popular Japanese female entertainer.

Tokyo Games organisers fired Kentaro Kobayashi on Thursday over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of a comedy act in the 1990s that recently resurfaced in domestic media.

The head of the organising committee, Seiko Hashimoto, apologised for the "trouble and worry" caused "when the opening ceremony is almost upon us."

Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organisation, released a statement saying Kobayashi's association with the Olympics would "insult the memory" of the 6 million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said comments by the show director were "outrageous and unacceptable" but that the opening ceremony should proceed as planned.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said U.S. President Joe Biden supported the decision to fire Kobayashi and disagreed with his "offensive" comments. Psaki said the president's wife Jill Biden still plans on attending the opening ceremony.

In a statement, Kobayashi apologised for his past comments.

"PR DISASTER"

Former PM Abe, who famously dressed up as the titular plumber from video game Super Mario at the Rio Games to represent Japan, played an outsized role in attracting the Olympics to Tokyo.

At the time of the bid, Abe and his supporters hoped the Olympics would parallel the 1964 Tokyo Games heralding the nation's revival after decades of economic stagnation and also mark its recovery from a massive earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011.

But the spectacle of last-minute personnel changes, the resurfacing of old abusive comments and the looming presence of the coronavirus pandemic threatened to turn it into a "PR disaster," said Bob Pickard, a veteran PR executive at Signal Leadership Communication.

"Tokyo 2020 was supposed to be a global platform for the launch of a new Japan facing an international future with confidence. Instead, what we see here is the legacy of the old Japan's insular attitudes mired in past prejudices and dated stereotypes," he said.

The opening ceremony on Friday is set to be a subdued https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-opening-ceremony-will-be-sobering-show-not-flashy-2021-07-21 affair, with just 950 people - including only around 15 global leaders - set to attend. Spectators have been barred from most Olympic events as COVID-19 cases surge.

On Thursday, Tokyo reported 1,979 new coronavirus cases in the capital, the highest since Jan. 15.

Jill Biden arrived in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon for the Games' opening ceremony, raising expectations she might also use her attendance to discuss vaccines with Suga.

The first lady, who is set to dine with Suga and his wife later in the day, has been travelling across the United States urging more people to get inoculated.

Only a third of Japanese have had at least one dose of the vaccine, fuelling public concerns that the Olympics could become a super-spreader event.

"This kind of stuff keeps happening, Tokyo residents are really sick of it," said 64-year-old retiree Shio Watanabe on Thursday after news of further personnel changes.

In a recent poll, 68% of respondents expressed doubt about the ability of Olympic organisers to control coronavirus infections, with 55% saying they opposed the Games going ahead.

Already 87 Olympic-related personnel, including athletes, have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the U.S. gymnastics team to relocate to a hotel.

In a visit with the Japanese emperor on Thursday, International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach tried to assuage concerns over the virus, reiterating that organisers were doing their utmost not to bring infections to Japan.

Olympics competition has already begun https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/olympics-softball-2020-games-begin-japan-australia-take-field-2021-07-21, with the Japanese women's softball team getting the hosts off to a winning start on Wednesday.

Between matches in rural Fukushima, an area devastated by the 2011 disaster, softball players were on the lookout https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/softball-olympic-softballers-hunt-roaming-bear-no-luck-finding-it-so-far-2021-07-22 for a brown bear which had been spotted this week.

"I'm kind of disappointed I didn't get to see it," U.S. pitcher Monica Abbott, who has played in Japan's national league since 2009, told a news conference.

Olympics-Opening ceremony director fired on Tokyo Games eve over Holocaust joke
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email