Olympic opening ceremony director fired for Holocaust joke

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Fox News 22 July, 2021 - 03:05am 29 views

When is the opening ceremony for the Olympics 2021?

NBC Olympics will provide unprecedented coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23, creating a full day of Olympic programming on NBC that culminates in what is always one of the most-watched nights in television with the primetime presentation of the Ceremony. NBC ChicagoWhen Do the Tokyo Olympics Start in 2021?

What time is the Olympics opening ceremony?

The 2021 Olympics Opening Ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. local time in Japan. With the United States' Eastern Standard Time being 13 hours behind Japan, it's going to be an early morning for those in the U.S. who want to watch the ceremony live. NBC's live coverage in the United States will begin around 6:55 a.m. NBC 7 San DiegoHow to Watch the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

Olympic organizers fire opening ceremony director because of Holocaust joke made in comedy show in 1998 | WTOP

WTOP 22 July, 2021 - 02:05am

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The Olympic opening ceremony that wasn’t

The Japan Times 22 July, 2021 - 12:10am

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Imagine this: The National Stadium goes dark and a crimson blur cuts through the night, prompting a roar of applause from the audience. It doesn’t take long to figure out what is streaking across the grounds — it’s the high-tech bike piloted by Shotaro Kaneda, the antihero of the cyberpunk manga and classic animated film, “Akira.” As the crowd in Tokyo grows louder with excitement, millions of viewers watching from home churn out reactions and memes via their social media accounts, the red hot moment topping the global trending charts almost instantly.

In some other timeline, this is how the opening ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would have kicked off. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, however, the event will take place on July 23, 2021 — a year after its original date — with limited spectators in attendance and most of the fanfare accompanying the official start to the Summer Games scaled down.

What audiences will see on Friday evening may still make for a memorable event that gets things off to a positive start, but the performance itself will almost certainly not resemble the original plan that was presented by some of Japan’s most creative minds to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

According to the proposal submitted to the IOC and obtained by tabloid Shukan Bunshun this past spring, the “Akira” bike was just one element of what was set to be a celebration of Japanese pop culture for all the world to see. While only a few pages were made public, those glimpses hinted at one of the most impressive efforts to date at highlighting everything that’s cool about Japan.

Other segments would have included a sequence featuring a wireframe car, dancers outfitted in uniforms that would represent different train stations, and an appearance by comedian Naomi Watanabe. At least one stretch of the opening ceremony would have featured the world’s most beloved 8-bit plumber, Mario. Riffing on the idea of “Neo Tokyo” seen in “Akira,” the event would have switched up the apocalyptic version of the metropolis presented in the anime and reimagined it as a new beginning for the city.

The opening ceremony is a golden moment for countries to showcase their pop culture prowess, best highlighted by the dizzying blur of references at the 2012 London Games and the K-pop touches adorning the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. After Tokyo won the bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2013, expectations for a blockbuster opening ceremony emerged, with folks around the world planning their dream version of the event and recoiling at rumors that AKB48, a J-pop mega-group, would be part of the festivities.

That’s the kind of opportunity this event presented — people with zero stakes in soft power or large-scale sporting competitions were determined to see Japan represented by the best it had to offer. The original team put together for the task seemed up for the challenge. The Tokyo handover segment of the Rio 2016 closing ceremony balanced cool imagery (glowing cubes rolling around), references galore (Captain Tsubasa! Pac-man! Hello Kitty!) and meme-worthy moments (the masterstroke of then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed as Mario).

That team included musician Sheena Ringo and choreographer Mikiko Mizuno, who had already garnered international attention thanks to her work with music groups such as Babymetal and Perfume. Based on the leaked plan, the team — with Mizuno playing a prominent role — was on the path to landing a spectacular opening ceremony. Putting pop culture at the forefront was a smart move since it’s a vital gateway to Japan for many. Here was a chance to remind everyone of what they already like about Japan while pointing toward a new era on the world stage. It was supposed to be a declaration that stated, “This is what we do well and we aren’t stopping in the 2020s.”

Shukan Bunshun reported that the IOC loved Mizuno’s ideas, but then things began to fall apart. Thanks to the Games being postponed a year by COVID-19, a new Tokyo 2020 creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, was brought on board in December 2020. He resigned this past spring after his idea to dress Watanabe as an “Olympig” turned into a scandal.

There was also the suggestion that Sasaki iced out Mizuno, as she became less involved in prepping the opening ceremony after he arrived. Mizuno left the team in late 2020, following Ringo and other members. All of the people who had shown skill at connecting with an international audience were out, and their visions of the opening ceremony were scrapped.

Once one of the most anticipated hallmarks of the Olympics, the opening ceremony now feels cursed. This week, musician Keigo Oyamada (also known by his stage name, Cornelius) resigned from his position as composer for the opening ceremony after a 1994 interview in which he boasted about abusing classmates with disabilities resurfaced, leaving organizers scrambling to find a replacement.

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s new theme of “moving forward” now seems more fitting than ever since that’s what it desperately wants to do at this point: Forget about re-establishing Japan’s place in the world, let’s just survive the next two weeks.

Could Mizuno’s original plan for an opening ceremony have been delivered amid a pandemic? Ironically, it might have worked even better — there’s been renewed interest in Japanese pop culture recently, particularly in the past 18 months as people sought out video games, anime and music for solace and entertainment.

A lot is riding on Friday night, particularly because the idea of what could have been looms so large in the background.

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Director of Olympic opening ceremony fired for past jokes about the Holocaust

Yahoo News 21 July, 2021 - 11:48pm

Kobayashi is a comedian, and Japanese media is reporting that in 1998, he wrote a script that made light of the genocide, which included the line, "Let's play Holocaust." This is unacceptable, Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement, and "any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics."

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, said Kobayashi "used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," and the committee "deeply" apologized 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." The opening ceremony is set for Friday night. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and a rise in cases in Japan, there will be no spectators.

If you ever wondered how pole vaulters practice their pole vaulting, here you go. #TokyoOlympics(📽️ @sandicheekspv) @usatf pic.twitter.com/g0OI1K8NkH- #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 20, 2021 Pole vaulters make it look so effortless: they run, stick their massive poles in the ground, and leap over super-high bars onto a mat.

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More controversy on eve of opening ceremony | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

NHK WORLD 21 July, 2021 - 11:33pm

The Tokyo Games organizers have sacked one of the directors of the opening ceremony just a day before the event. They say Kobayashi Kentaro made anti-Semitic remarks as part of a comedy act in the 1990s.

It comes after an international Jewish human rights organization took aim at Kobayashi's comments, which were related to the Holocaust. The Simon Wiesenthal Center said nobody has the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide.

In the same statement, Rabbi Abraham Cooper said "Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews".

President of the organizing committee Hashimoto Seiko apologized for the latest scandal to hit the Games. Kobayashi was also helping to direct the closing ceremony.

The move follows the decision to cut music from the opening ceremony by a composer under fire for abusing classmates as a student.

Opening ceremony director for 2021 Tokyo Olympics fired after comments about Holocaust surface

USA TODAY 21 July, 2021 - 11:00pm

A Tokyo 2020 official said they became aware of the director's past remarks about the Holocaust, which he made in 1998, on Wednesday morning.

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The two flag-bearers for the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics has been announced: Women's basketball player Sue Bird and baseball player Eddy Alvarez. USA TODAY

TOKYO — Organizers announced Thursday that they have dismissed the director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics after learning that he made light of the Holocaust in a comedy routine.

The firing of the director, comedian Kentaro Kobayashi, comes a little more than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the ceremony Friday.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said in a news conference that organizers are reviewing the entirety of the program for the opening ceremony in the wake of Kobayashi's dismissal. Hashimoto said they became aware of his past remarks about the Holocaust, which he made in 1998, on Wednesday morning. 

Hashimoto said they "deeply regret" the situation.

"The overall responsibility lies in me," she said.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish global human rights organization based in Los Angeles, condemned Kobayashi's remarks on Wednesday. The center, citing Japanese news reports, said Kobayashi "made malicious and anti-Semitic jokes including 'let's play Holocaust.' "

"Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide," said Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean and global social action director.

Kobayashi's dismissal is the latest in a string of embarrassing moments for the organizing committee, and particularly its opening ceremony team.

Keigo Oyamada, a Japanese composer, resigned from the Tokyo 2020 creative team earlier this week amid backlash for bullying a classmate with disabilities during his childhood.

A previous creative director for the opening ceremony, Hiroshi Sasaki, resigned in March amid revelations that he had made sexist remarks about a well-known female entertainer in Japan, likening her in a brainstorming session to a pig.

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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony director ousted for Holocaust jokes

Yahoo Sports 21 July, 2021 - 10:53pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

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You Pod to Win the Game

Kentaro Kobayashi, a former Japanese comedian, had been in charge of the Opening Ceremony's program since 2019. In recent days, as the Tokyo Olympics get set to begin, news media called attention to a 1998 comedic act in which Kobayashi made light of Nazi Germany's mass murder of millions of Jews.

Since video of Kobayashi's comedic routine swept through Japanese media earlier this week, Jewish groups denounced the "anti-Semitic jokes." In the clip, from 1998, Kobayashi joked about "playing Holocaust" as a “let’s massacre Jewish people game.”

On Thursday, at a nearly hour-long news conference, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto announced that Kobayashi had been dismissed, leaving organizers to frantically "review" the Opening Ceremony's entire script. It is scheduled to begin Friday at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m ET) at the Olympic Stadium.

Hashimoto said she had not been aware of Kobayashi's comments until learning about them through Japanese media earlier this week. "As soon as possible, we decided we will have to address the issue, and we decided on the dismissal," she said.

Hashimoto apologized to the Japanese public, and then read a statement that she said was from Kobayashi. In the statement, Kobayashi acknowledged that the comedy routine was "not appropriate," and deeply apologized to those he'd offended.

The Opening Ceremony has already been riddled with upheaval and controversy. On Monday, the musician responsible for the ceremony's musical interlude, Keigo Oyamada, resigned from his post after admitting that he bullied children with disabilities years ago.

The organizing committee's core has also previously been rocked by scandal. In February, Yoshiro Mori stepped down as president after saying that women talked too much in meetings. A month later, the organizing committee's creative chief resigned after suggesting that a popular plus-size entertainer wear pig ears at the Opening Ceremony and take on the role of "Olympig."

And in general, these Olympics are massively unpopular. Local media pressed organizers at Thursday's news conference about Kobayashi's dismissal, but also about COVID protocols and their handling of countless logistical issues. Some journalists, in asking questions, prefaced them by accusing Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto of organizational "problems." The criticism forced organizers to admit: “We are facing a lot of challenges right now.”

And because the Games are so unpopular, business leaders have been pulling out of appearances at the Opening Ceremony. Many athletes, due to COVID fears, are choosing not to attend. Hashimoto insisted the Ceremony would go on, but now, some 30 hours before it begins, it is without the man in charge of coordinating it.

TOKYO (Reuters) -On the eve of the Tokyo Games, organisers fired the director of the opening ceremony over comments he made about the Holocaust, while media reported former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a memorable advocate for the Tokyo Games, would skip the showpiece event. The news is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Tokyo organisers that have sparked outrage at home and abroad, and comes just days after a well known musician was forced to step down https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-2020-organisers-want-composer-who-apologised-bullying-stay-2021-07-19 as composer for the ceremony after old reports of his bullying and abusive behaviour surfaced. Abe, who famously dressed up as the titular plumber from video game Super Mario at the Rio Games to represent Japan, played an outsized role in attracting the Olympics to Tokyo.

Kantaro Kobayashi allegedly made anti-Semitic jokes during a comedy routine in 1998.

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The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed.

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A Tokyo 2020 official said they became aware of the director's past remarks about the Holocaust, which he made in 1998, on Wednesday morning.

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Oly Games opening ceremony director fired

Yahoo Sport Australia 21 July, 2021 - 10:27pm

Tokyo Games President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing Kentaro Kobayashi had been dismissed because of past comments that made fun of a tragedy.

Kobayashi was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase "Let's play Holocaust," in one of his shows in 1998.

His dismissal comes the day before Friday's opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games.

Earlier this week, a composer whose music is expected to be used at the opening ceremony was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews.

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Opening ceremony leader fired for Holocaust joke

ESPN 21 July, 2021 - 10:24pm

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. Kobayashi was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase "Let's play Holocaust."

"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."

The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games is scheduled for Friday night. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was expected to be used at the ceremony, was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. The segment of his music will not be used.

Soon after a video clip and script of Kobayashi's performance were revealed, criticism flooded social media.

"Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group. He also noted that the Nazis gassed Germans with disabilities.

"Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics," he said.

Kobayashi is a former member of a popular comedy duo Rahmens and known overseas for comedy series including "The Japanese Tradition."

The last-minute scandals come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Kobayashi's Holocaust joke and Oyamada's resignation were the latest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress as a pig.

Also this week, the chiropractor for the American women's wrestling team apologized after comparing Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany in a social media post. Rosie Gallegos-Main, a chiropractor for women's wrestling since 2009, will be allowed to finish her planned stay at USA Wrestling's pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.

Olympic Opening Ceremony Director Fired for 1998 Holocaust Joke

NBC 7 San Diego 21 July, 2021 - 08:40pm

The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust,” in one of his shows.

His dismissal comes the day before Friday's opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games.

Earlier this week, a composer whose music is expected to be used at the opening ceremony was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews.

olympic opening ceremony

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