Nothing funny about challenges facing opening ceremony team, with third contributor dismissed over Holocaust joke

Ceremonies director Kobayashi removed from responsibilities less than two days prior to the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony

Hiroshi Sasaki, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games executive creative director, displays a portrait of Olympics opening ceremony show director Kentaro Kobayashi during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 2019.  Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
Hiroshi Sasaki, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games executive creative director, displays a portrait of Olympics opening ceremony show director Kentaro Kobayashi during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.

The creative team for Friday’s opening ceremony has received a third detrimental setback less than 48 hours until the Olympic Flame is lit opening the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Olympics opening ceremony, was fired from his position following news reports about his past comments on the Holocaust, the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced Thursday.

Reports about Kobayashi’s comments quickly drew criticism, including by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which condemned what it called anti-Semitic jokes by Kobayashi, who is a comedian.

According to Japanese media reports, Kobayashi made light of the mass murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in a script for his comedy act in 1998, including saying, “Let’s play Holocaust.”

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide. The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” stated SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director, Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

Kobayashi is the second member of the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony creative team, with an unexpected fall-out this week, that will no longer contribute to the pageantry at Friday evening’s gathering of the world athletes in Tokyo Olympic Stadium.

This past Monday, Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, or Cornelius as he refers to himself as, resigned from the team after admitting that he bullied children with disabilities many years ago, in yet another incident shaking the already unpopular Games.

The resignation of Oyamada – who was in charge of composing music for the ceremony – comes after his actions sparked anger on social media. His apology failed to ease the uproar online questioning the appropriateness of his role in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Oyamada, 52, said on Twitter Monday that his acceptance of the request to be part of the team was something that “lacked consideration to various people,” and that he had “offered (his) resignation to the organizing committee.”

Games organizers noted that Oyamada’s part in the ceremony, a roughly four-minute composition to be played at the start, will not be used, with an alternative plan now being considered.

Yet another incident occurred four months ago in March as the ceremony’s chief creative officer Hiroshi Sasaki was forced to resign when it was discovered that he had made derogatory comments about plus-sized Japanese comedian Naomi Watanabe, suggesting that she appear at the ceremony as an “Olympig”

“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” Sasaki said in a statement released through the Games organising committee. “I sincerely apologize to her and people who have felt discomfort with such content.”

Finally, in February, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, Yoshiko Mori, also resigned after he was criticized for making “inappropriate” remarks about women.

Mori, 83, was quoted as saying women talk too much and that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”.

At the Sochi 2014 opening ceremony, an embarrassing malfunction occurred when only four of the five giant snowflakes, which were supposed to tranform into Olympic Rings, were lit. Photos of four-fifths of the Olympic symbols spread quickly on social media, overshadowing Russia performers Tatu.

Naturally, despite the numerous and unexpected difficulties plaguing the Tokyo 2020 creative staff, everyone is hoping that all goes smoothly and incident-free on Friday night.