Officials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Thursday dismissed the show's director after a video of his joking about the Holocaust resurfaced.
In a video from 1998, Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director for the opening ceremony, was seen making jokes about the Holocaust in his comedic act. In his act, he had a portion titled "Let's play Holocaust" where he made several anti-Semitic joke about the event.
It is unclear how his dismissal would affect the ceremony, which is expected to begin on Friday morning.
Controversies Surrounding the Olympics
"How we're going to handle the ceremony is currently being discussed," Seiko Hashimoto, Japan's Olympic chief, said, according to NPR. "We are facing a lot of challenges right now. Maybe that's the reason why these negative incidents will impact the messages we want to deliver to the world. The value of Tokyo 2020 is still exciting and we want to send our messages to the world."
Kobayashi's departure is the latest in a series of scandals that has plagued the Games. On Monday, Keigo Oyamada, the composer, stepped down from his position after he boasted in the 1990s about bullying people with disabilities when he was still a student.
Oyadama was initially allowed to keep his role. However, Japanese officials later reversed their decision. They also decided not to use his composition in the ceremony, which resulted in organizers struggling to make last-minute arrangements to the music.
In March, creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki stepped down from his position after it was revealed that he made a demeaning remark about action and comedian Naomi Watanabe and suggested that the plus-size celebrity would appear as an "Olympig," as reported by The New York Times.
Apart from the string of resignations, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic also became a platform for protest after British women's soccer players on Wednesday took a knee in protest against discrimination and racism. The gesture was reciprocated by their opponents from Chile.
"Taking the knee was something we spoke about as a group. We feel so strongly and we want to show we're united," Steph Houghton, a co-captain for the British team, said, as quoted by BBC.
Soccer teams from Sweden and the United States also took a knee before their match on the same day. According to Yahoo Sports, at least one referee on the field also participated in the protest.
Soccer players for Australia did not get down on one knee even after their opponent, New Zealand's women's soccer team, took a knee. However, they later held a large flag representing their country's Aboriginal people during a team photo. The flag was first raised five decades ago.
In July, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relaxed its rules on "athlete expression" to allow participants to express their opinions. Under its new guidelines, athletes can express a political gesture before the start of a competition or during their introduction. However, the gesture must not be targeted to a specific person, country, or organization. It should also not be disruptive, as reported by Fox News.