Tokyo 2020 Olympics.. A series of scandals and embarrassing slips of the tongue

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Tokyo 2020 organizers fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday, a day before the Games, after previous comments he made about the Holocaust met public criticism.

It was the latest in a string of scandals that worried regulators and shone a strong spotlight on Japan, especially on social issues.

Here are some of the most prominent of these scandals:

July 22 – Organizers fire Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the opening ceremony, over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of a 1990s comedy that resurfaced in local media.

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the organizing committee, told a news conference that she was aware that some people had turned against the opening ceremony because of the scandals. She added that Kobayashi was fired for his comments in which he ridiculed a tragic fact of history.

Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center for International Jewish Rights issued a statement condemning Kobayashi’s past behavior.

July 19 – Composer Keijo Aoyamada stops composing the opening concert music, as past reports of his bullying and aggressive behavior surface. He came under fire after comments he made in interviews in the 1990s resurfaced on the internet.

The daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that in 1995 he told a magazine how he locked a classmate in a cardboard box and made fun of a student with special needs.

The paper said he described the bullying of one of his colleagues in an article he published in the mid-1990s.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of these interviews. A series of photos were widely published on social media, allegedly from the pages of the magazine.

Aoyamada apologized on his Twitter account. His resignation came just hours after organizers said they wanted him to stay.

March 18 – Hiroshi Sasaki, creative director of the Tokyo Olympics, resigns after making a comment insulting a hugely popular media outlet.

Sasaki, who apologized for what he had done, said he told a group of his colleagues during a casual conversation that the media could play the role of a pig in the Olympics.

His comment was widely criticized in Japan, with a government spokesperson calling it “completely inappropriate.”

February 12 – Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori is forced to resign after sexist comments that have sparked international outrage.

The 80-year-old former prime minister said at a meeting of the Olympic Committee that women gossip too much. He had initially refused to resign.

He was replaced by Seiko Hashimoto, a leading seven-time Olympic congressman.

Mori’s comments have drawn global attention to gender inequality in Japan, which has the world’s third largest economy.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supported policies based on women’s participation in running the economy, but activists and a large number of women say Japan still has a long way to go, especially in the workplace.


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