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Editorial: Axed Tokyo Games show director trampled Olympic values in yet another scandal

Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed from his position as show director of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony for using the Holocaust as part of a joke in a skit when he was a comedian. His actions trampled on the principle of the Olympic Charter, which seeks peace and prohibits all form of discrimination, and also goes against the vision of the Tokyo Games.

    Though Kobayashi, who is said to have been in charge of coordinating the entire production, apologized after the issue came to light, he was sacked by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Meanwhile, Keigo Oyamada, who was is change of the music for the opening ceremony, had recently resigned after it emerged that in the past he had bullied his classmates with disabilities.

    In a video released in 1998 when Kobayashi was a member of the Japanese comedy duo Rahmens, he apparently explained the reason for having lots of paper cutouts of human figures as being from a time when they "played the Holocaust."

    The U.S. Jewish human rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement saying, "Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide. ... 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."

    The opening ceremony is an important opportunity for the host country to spread its culture and traditions to the world. The organizing committee is heavily responsible for appointing Kobayashi without doing enough research on whether he was qualified to take charge as a show director for such an occasion.

    The committee responded in a hurry after being alerted about Kobayashi's past by an outside party just before the opening ceremony. It has failed as an organization involved in the management of a national event drawing worldwide attention.

    When Oyamada resigned, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto revealed, "We did not choose each of these individuals. We chose a group that formed itself by inviting each other," indicating that the organization's selection process was sloppy.

    The Olympic Charter does not tolerate any form of discrimination based on one's race, skin color, religion or other factors. This year's games also advocate diversity and harmony.

    In February, Yoshiro Mori, then president of the organizing committee, resigned over sexist remarks. The following month, then Tokyo Games creative director Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down after it emerged that he made disparaging comments about a popular entertainer's appearance when suggesting opening ceremony ideas.

    These series of scandals have damaged the value of the Tokyo Olympics before it has even opened. What will viewers around the world think of the opening ceremony on July 23? The organizing committee must reveal the circumstances that led to this situation.

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