Just before the beginning of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the director of the opening ceremony was removed from his position after a minor uproar over jokes he made more than two decades ago. The firing is the latest in a series of “scandals” which needlessly seen a large number of top organizers thrown out just before the start of the Olympic Games, which already faced a myriad of other problems without losing so many important officials.
23 year old jokes prompt firing
Kentaro Kobayashi, a popular entertainer and comedian in Japan, was the director of the opening ceremony until the day before it happened.
At the very last second Kobayashi was thrown out after a video emerged in which he apparently made a joke about the Holocaust in 1998.
What exactly the joke was is unclear, as is the context, but he appears to have said something about it during a comedy routine with another performer.
Kobayashi apologized after the video appeared and said that he regretted his choice of words and that his jokes could make people uncomfortable.
The obscure line would likely not have made anyone at all uncomfortable if someone hadn’t gone through the trouble to dig it up and publicize it just before the height of the comedian’s career.
Organizers were forced to quickly reevaluate the opening ceremonies after his departure, though the event proceeded largely as planned without Kobayashi.
Tokyo Games not off to a good start
Political correctness has seen a number of prominent Olympic organizers in Japan forced from their positions in the months before the Tokyo Games.
A former Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, was forced to resign as president of the organizing committee in February after he made a remark about women talking more frequently than men.
Pandemic concerns have already created an enormous number of headaches for organizers and enthusiasm for the Olympics, already delayed by one year, is not particularly high in the host country.
Still, the scandals surrounding prominent officials have managed to make a bad situation even worse. Just days before the firing of Kobayashi a composer was fired from his role.
That composer allegedly bullied classmates in school several decades ago. Someone is evidently willing to dig fairly deep to ignite new scandals at the Tokyo Games.
After such a tumultuous year it is fair to expect that this year the Olympics, intended to bring the world together, may prove to be particularly fraught and divisive.