Kentaro Kobayashi, the director of the opening ceremony at the postponed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, was fired by the organizing committee for a Holocaust joke he made in 1998.
Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day before the opening ceremony that Kobayashi had been fired for the joke.
"We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own  performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," Hashimoto announced, according to The Associated Press. "We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country."
In the sketch from 1998, Kobayashi sits alongside his comedy partner, turns to him, and refers to some crumpled pieces of paper saying, "let's play Holocaust," according to The Japan Times.
Yasuhide Nakayama, the state minister of defense, announced on Twitter that he had reported Kobayashi to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC). The SWC is a Jewish human rights organization that investigates antisemitic incidences.
The center stated that Kobayashi's joke was antisemitic, adding, "Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide," SWC Rabbi Abraham Cooper said.
"The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. 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."
Additionally, Rosie Gallegos-Main, a chiropractor for the American women’s wrestling team, apologized this week for a social media post where she compared the Olympics' COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany.
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