AceShowbiz - The director of Friday's (23Jul21) Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony has been fired on the eve of the big event after officials discovered he made a Holocaust joke in 1998.
Video of Kentaro Kobayashi making an inappropriate comment during a comedy show over 20 years ago surfaced earlier this week, and he was forced to step down on Thursday.
Organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto insists he and other officials acted swiftly after they were made aware of Kobayashi's regretful remarks and removed the director.
"We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," Hashimoto said in a statement, obtained by TMZ. "We deeply apologise 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."
Kobayashi has released an apology statement, which reads, "Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it."
The news comes days after composer Keigo Oyamada pulled out of a performance at the opening ceremony after admitting to allegations he bullied a disabled classmate in the 1990s.
The opening ceremony is expected to continue as planned, without spectators due to Japan's COVID crisis, on Friday.
The sports event was supposed to be held in 2020 but delayed because of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.