2020 Tokyo Olympics: Opening Ceremony Director Fired for Controversial Comments

by Jonathan Howard

The Olympic committee has fired the creative director of the opening ceremony. Kentaro Kobayashi was fired for comments he made in 1998. In a comedy routine, Kobayashi made light of the Holocaust. Just a day before the ceremony, officials fired Kobayashi. The Tokyo Olympics are underway, despite a few other similar controversies.

After firing Kobayashi, officials examined the program to make sure it wasn’t compromised. The ceremony went on without issue. Noami Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron to officially start the Games. For those watching the ceremony, it was fairly normal stuff. The oily Tongan got plenty of attention. Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez carried the U.S. flag. Team USA dressed like the bad guys in a Disney Channel movie.

The firing comes along with other resignations and firings. Keigo Oyamada resigned from the Tokyo 2020 creative team. Oyamada is a composer by trade. Earlier in the year, Hiroshi Sasaki resigned after making sexist comments. Those comments were directed at a female entertainer. The former president of the organizing committee resigned as well earlier this year. Yoshiro Mori made sexist comments as well.

First Lady Jill Biden attended the ceremony. Team USA had 230 athletes march in the opening ceremony. Tokyo is in a state of emergency still. So the stadium was empty besides the athletes. There will be no fans for most of the Games. That means no tourists in the city. Officials worry about what that means for marketing and merchandise sales.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Controversies

Kobayashi remembers making the comments. “I understand that my choice of words was wrong, and I regret it. I am sorry,” he wrote in Japanese. Tokyo 2020 president, Seiko Hashimoto, made a statement during a news conference. “The overall responsibility lies in me,” she said of the controversy.

Hashimoto claimed to have only learned of the controversy on Wednesday. Tokyo will be under restrictions for quite some time. The controversies are embarrassing for the Tokyo organizing committee. However, moving past the issue is likely best. There isn’t much more the committee can do than get rid of the issues as they arise.

The ceremony was not as exciting as other Olympics. The looming aspect of COVID-19 brought a more somber tone to the entire ceremony. Team USA was led out by Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez. Bird and Alvarez are the first duo to carry the flags in for Team USA. The change was a recommendation from the IOC. The Games are underway and should be filled with action in the next few weeks. Without fans, the events will look very different. However, the competition should be the best in the world. Hopefully, all the athletes stay happy and healthy throughout.