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A technician works next to Olympic rings at Ariake Urban Sports Park on July 22. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

The director of the Games' opening ceremony was fired Thursday over his past comments about the Holocaust during a comedy performance, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee announced.

Why it matters: Kentaro Kobayashi's removal came a day before the opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games was due to start. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said at a news conference Thursday, "How we're going to handle the ceremony is currently being discussed."

Driving the news: Hashimoto confirmed earlier Kobayashi's dismissal over a 1998 clip, shared online, in which a man identified as the now-former opening ceremony director jokes about the Nazi atrocity in a skit titled, "Let's play Holocaust."

  • "We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy," Hashimoto said, per AP.
  • "We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country."

The big picture: The opening ceremony will be a "sobering" performance, Marco Balich, a senior advisor to the Tokyo ceremonies executive producer, recently told Reuters.

  • It will have "beautiful Japanese aesthetics. Very Japanese but also in sync with the sentiment of today, the reality," Balich said.
  • He added that since there cannot be mass choreography due to coronavirus and there's no audience, "[t]he opening ceremony in a way is going to be unique and focus only on the athletes."
  • "It will be very meaningful, far from the grandiosity of previous ceremonies. The moment is now. It is a beautiful effort. A very truthful, honest ceremony, nothing fake," Balich noted.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details.

Go deeper

Trump hints at 2024 White House run during 9/11 visit

Former President Donald Trump. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn /AFP via Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump said Saturday that it's an "easy question" whether he'll run for office in 2024 while talking to firefighters and police officers in New York City on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The big picture: Trump skipped the day's official events in lieu of his campaign-style appearance with first responders. He is also scheduled to provide commentary for a pay-per-view boxing match Saturday night in Florida.

Updated Sep 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden attends wreath-laying ceremony at Pentagon

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on Sept. 11 in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon on Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The latest: Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived at the Pentagon after visiting the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Ground Zero in New York City.

2 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.