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His resignation comes the day before the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday.
On the eve of the Tokyo Games, organizers fired the director of the opening ceremony over comments he made about the Holocaust, while media reported that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a memorable Tokyo Games advocate, would skip the showpiece.
The news is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Tokyo organizers that have sparked outrage at home and abroad, and comes just days after a well-known musician was forced to step down as composer for the ceremony over old reports. about his bullying and abusive behavior surfaced.
Abe, who was famous as a plumber from the video game Super Mario during the Rio Games to represent Japan, played an outrageous role in attracting the Olympics to Tokyo.
At the time of the bid, Abe and his supporters hoped the Olympics would parallel the Tokyo Games in 1964, heralding the country’s resurgence after decades of economic stagnation and also marking the recovery from a devastating nuclear and natural disaster in the United States. 2011.
Instead, the Games, which have been postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, have faced a series of setbacks and scandals.
Earlier this year, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee head resigned after making sexist remarks, and the Tokyo Olympics creative head followed suit after making disparaging comments about a popular Japanese female entertainer.
On Thursday, Tokyo Game organizers fired Kentaro Kobayashi over a joke he made about the Holocaust as part of his 1990s comedy act, which recently resurfaced in domestic media.
“We have noticed that during his previous appearance, Mr. Kobayashi used remarks that made fun of a tragic fact of history,” said Seiko Hashimoto, head of the organizing committee.
Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, released a statement condemning Kobayashi’s past behavior.
“Any association of this person with the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and be a cruel mockery of the Paralympic Games,” said Abraham Cooper, a rabbi and director of the Center for Global Social Action.
Friday’s opening ceremony will be an understated affair, with Japanese media reporting that fewer than 950 people — including only about 15 world leaders — will be in attendance.
First Lady Jill Biden lands in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon for the opening ceremony of the Games, raising hopes that she could also use her presence to discuss vaccines with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Biden has traveled across the United States urging more people to get vaccinated.
Only a third of Japanese people have had at least one dose of the vaccine, raising public concern that the Olympics could become a super-dissemination event. Already 87 Olympic-related personnel, including athletes, have tested positive for Covid-19, forcing athletes to withdraw and isolate teammates.
NHK said Abe decided not to attend the ceremony after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency and virus restrictions over Tokyo. Abe’s office was not immediately available on Thursday, a holiday in Japan.
In a recent poll in the Asahi newspaper, 68 percent of respondents expressed doubts about Olympic organizers’ ability to control coronavirus infections, and 55 percent said they were against the Games going ahead.
The Olympic competition has already started, with the Japanese women’s softball team giving the hosts a winning start on Wednesday.
The second day of softball started early on Thursday under a cloudy sky, with the United States beating Canada by one point to finish 2-0 in the standings.
Between games in rural Fukushima, devastated by the 2011 nuclear disaster, players searched for a brown bear spotted this week.
“I’m a little disappointed not to have seen it,” said American pitcher Monica Abbott.
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