Tokyo Olympics: opening ceremony director fired

The official opening event of the games is scheduled for tomorrow. The organising committee has relieved Kentaro Kobayashi of his duties over anti-Semitic jokes he allegedly made in the past. The former comedian and the president of Tokyo 2020 have since apologised. Meanwhile, new cases of Covid-19 reported.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Olympic Organising Committee has fired Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Games' opening ceremony, over anti-Semitic jokes the former comedian and director allegedly made in 1998. Online videos have circulated in recent days showing Kobayashi joking in response to the provocation "Let's play Holocaust". 

The decision was taken one day before the official start of the sporting event and is the latest in a series of scandals linked to the organisation of the event. In recent days, a composer resigned after it was discovered that he had bullied disabled classmates as a student.

In the meantime, the number of cases of Covid-19 is increasing: according to Kyodo News, a total of 87 positives have so far been registered among athletes and organisational staff.

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the organising committee, apologised for not carrying out background checks on the director. With Kobayashi's removal, Tokyo 2020 organisers are now considering how to handle tomorrow's event. "With the opening ceremony so imminent, we apologise for causing concern to those involved in the Olympics, the citizens of Tokyo and the Japanese public," Hashimoto said.

Kobayashi also issued a statement apologising for what he said in the video and calling his attitude "regrettable".