Ceremony director sacked one day before Tokyo 2020 Olympics opens

(Xinhua) 09:28, July 23, 2021

  Screenshot from Tokyo 2020 official website.

Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi dismissed over his past comments on the Holocaust.

TOKYO, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Olympic Games suffered another setback one day before its opening, with Kentaro Kobayashi dismissed from his role of the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday over his past comments on the Holocaust.

Kobayashi was found to have made a joke of the Holocaust in a comedy skit in 1998.

"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," read an announcement from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.

It's the latest blow to Tokyo 2020's preparatory work, as Keigo Oyamada, one of the composers for the opening ceremony, resigned on Monday after drawing criticism due to past bullying. Hiroshi Sasaki, former chief creative director of the opening ceremony, had resigned in March after making derogatory remarks about a popular female Japanese entertainer.

Despite gaffes now and then, Tokyo 2020 organizers reiterated their utmost efforts in engaging everyone to enjoy the Games.

"We are doing our best so that everyone can enjoy the Games," Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto told a press conference.

Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) President Hashimoto Seiko attends a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Jingqiang)

Only about 950 people, including officials and reporters, will be allowed to watch in the main stadium, with the rest allowed being performers and athletes participating in the event.

On Thursday, Tokyo 2020 organizers reported 12 new positive COVID-19 cases related to the Olympics, including two infected foreign athletes in the athletes village, bringing the total number of Olympics-linked cases to 87 since July 1.

Meanwhile, Guinean Sports Minister Sanoussy Bantama Sow announced that Guinea would not participate in the Tokyo Olympics citing an upsurge of COVID-19.

Men's football competition witnessed a rematch of the Rio Olympic finalists, with defending champions Brazil prevailing 4-2 over Germany. Egypt forced Spain to a goalless draw.

Richarlison (R) of Brazil shoots during the Tokyo 2020 men's football group D match against Germany in Yokohama, Japan, July 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)

Hosts Japan eked out a 3-2 victory over Mexico for their second straight win in softball, while another title hopeful the United States edged Canada 1-0.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will feature a total of 33 sports and 339 events. Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing are set to debut in the Olympics, while baseball and softball make a return to the Olympic stage after an absence of 13 years.

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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