The director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Summer Olympics has been fired after footage from a 1998 comedy sketch showed him making an antisemitic Holocaust joke.
Kentaro Kobayashi was relieved of his duties just one day before the opening ceremony for the Summer Games is set to take place in Japan.
The organizing committee confirmed Kobayashi’s departure in a statement. It explained the creative director had been removed from his position “after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light.”
“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world,” said the committee.
Kobayashi, who is known for his work as a comedian, actor, and theater director, appeared in 1998 as part of the comedy duo, Rahmens. During a sketch, Kobayashi and Jin Katagiri parodied hosts for a children’s educational program. Kobayashi referred to some paper doll cutouts, describing them as “the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust,'” according to AFP news agency.
His remarks were met with laughter from the audience.