Tokyo Olympics Official Fired Over Holocaust Joke


TOKYO—Bullying the handicapped, suggesting a plus-size woman dress in a pig’s costume and making jokes about the Holocaust. Those are the headlines connected to this year’s Olympic opening ceremony, normally an uplifting pageant of nations.

A day before the Tokyo Summer Games formally begin, Kentaro Kobayashi, who was to oversee performances at the opening ceremony, was ousted because of a comedy skit he performed in the 1990s about the Holocaust.

Mr. Kobayashi is the third senior member of the creative team for Olympic ceremonies to leave amid controversy.

Earlier this week, the musical director of the opening ceremony resigned after a magazine interview resurfaced in which he admitted bullying classmates as a student. The lead creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies resigned in March after floating an idea to put a female celebrity in a pig costume.

Already an exercise in crisis management because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Games faced another headache with just hours to go until the opening ceremony. Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, said the ceremony would be reviewed because of Mr. Kobayashi’s firing, but a senior person involved in the production said Thursday night that the committee decided not to make any changes. Ceremonies at the Games were already scaled back to reduce costs after the pandemic forced the Olympics to be delayed by a year.

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