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Tokyo Olympics ceremony director dismissed over Holocaust remarks

Tokyo, Jul 22 (EFE).- One of the creative directors of the Tokyo 2020 opening and closing ceremonies was dismissed from his role on Thursday amid criticism of past comments on the Holocaust, the organizing committee said at a press conference.

Kentaro Kobayashi, a comedian and theater director, was let go after a video emerged of him joking about the Holocaust, reportedly as part of a 1998 skit that included the phrase: “Let’s play Holocaust.”

The latest scandal surrounding the Games comes on the eve of the opening ceremony and two days after a musician, known in Japan as Cornelius, stepped down as composer following another controversy over an old interview in which he admitted to having bullied school classmates.

Kobayashi’s resignation was accepted by the organizers, and comes after Jewish organizations spoke out against him in recent days.

The 48-year-old comedian, best known for being a member of a popular comic duo until 2009, apologized on Thursday for his comments, saying they were “extremely imprudent.”

The organizers are now discussing how to manage the opening ceremony and hope to reach a conclusion soon, president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said.

Kobayashi was in charge of the general supervision of the three sections of the opening ceremony on Friday and also of giving coherence to all the participants, according to the organizers.

Others who have stepped down in previous months include the former president of the organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, who resigned after making sexist comments, as well as another creative director, who suggested that a popular actress be lowered into the Olympic stadium dressed as a pig.

When asked about the never-ending list of problems for the organizers, Hashimoto said that such incidents had a tremendous impact, which is why the organizers decided to act quickly. EFE

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