Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been plunged into further chaos following the dismissal of its show director.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto confirmed to media that Kantaro Kobayashi has been sacked on the eve of the event due to alleged anti-Semitic jokes he made during a comedy routine in 1998.
A clip, which was widely shared on Japanese social media on Wednesday, showed the 48-year-old comedian during the TV skit saying the line ‘Let’s play Holocaust’.
His dismissal comes days after the show’s composer Keigo Oyamada was forced to resign after footage emerged of interviews in which he admitted bullying disabled children during his schooldays.
And its executive creative director Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down in March following criticism of his suggestion that plus-size model Naomi Watanabe dress up as a pig during the ceremony.
No fans and fewer than 1,000 VIPs will be present in the 68,000 capacity Tokyo Olympic Stadium, with a string of heads of major corporations such as Toyota and Panasonic announcing publicly that they would withdraw, citing concerns over the public’s perception of the Games.
Japanese media have reported that Emperor Naruhito will be present at the ceremony, but will pointedly refrain from using the word ‘celebrate’.
Only around 30 of more than 200 Team GB athletes who are currently in Tokyo are expected to march at the ceremony, with many citing coronavirus concerns.