With the 2021 Tokyo Olympics just days away, the organisers have fired the director of the opening ceremony Kentaro Kobayashi after his jokes over the holocaust in a 1998 comedic act resurfaced on domestic media. At the same time, it was reported that former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe would skip the event.
This news is only one of the latest in a series of embarrassments for the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics. A few days ago, a well-known music composer was forced to step down as the composer of the opening ceremony after old reports of abusive behaviour and bullying resurfaced.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish Human rights organisation, released a statement regarding his earlier behaviour.
"Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics," said Abraham Cooper, the Associate dean and global social action director of the centre.
The Chief of the Tokyo Olympics, Seiko Hashimoto, stated: "It has come to light that during a past performance, Kobayashi used language that mocked a tragic fact of history."
"The organising committee has decided to relieve Kobayashi of his post," she added.
The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is expected to be a very subdued affair, as the Japanese media reported that only 950 people and only 15 global leaders are expected to attend.
The former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who had been a strong advocate of the Olympics coming to Japan, even famously dressing up as Mario, the character from the famous video game Super Mario in order to represent Japan at the Olympics, has played a key role in bringing the Olympics to Tokyo but has decided not to attend the ceremony due to the rise in COVID cases and the Japanese government declaring a state of emergency in order to minimise risks among the residents of Tokyo.
COVID-19 cases in Tokyo have been increasing rapidly over the last few weeks, overstraining the healthcare system.
Meanwhile, the Olympic competition has begun in Tokyo with early success for the Japanese women softball team while the US football team suffered a loss to Sweden.