A Holocaust joke made 23 years ago has now officially cost the director of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony director his job.
Kentaro Kobayashi was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust during his comedy act in 1998, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.” The criticism was fierce after the clip resurfaced. Kobayashi is a former member of a popular comedy duo Rahmens and known overseas for comedy series including “The Japanese Tradition.”
Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, made the decision to dismiss Kobayashi on Thursday.
“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said. “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.”
According to AFP, the sketch in question sees Kobayashi turning to his colleague and saying “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust.’”
Kobayashi released a statement on his firing, according to BBC.
“Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it,” he said.
The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics will begin Friday.