Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony, was fired. And it’s disturbing.

Today, on the eve of the official opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, was sacked from his role due to a 23-year-old Holocaust joke.

Kobayashi, director and theatrical actor appreciated in his homeland, has interpreted, during his career, numerous comedy shows, of which one in particular, dated 1998, has aroused the attention of the media in the last hours: in fact, according to what the media reported and by AFP News Agency, a world-famous French news agency.

Kobayashi, in the course of a sketch, paired with another comedian, would have pretended to be part of a duo of television entertainers for children and Kobayashi refered to some paper doll cutouts, describing them as:

“the ones from that time you said ‘let’s play the Holocaust”

And that this way Kentaro Kobayashi was fired.

It is outrageous that a person has to lose their job for a joke made so long ago, especially if that joke was perfectly contextualized. In a Stand Up Comedy Show you need black humor jokes and you shouldn’t be offended by what the comedian says because of the context in which he says certain phrases: that is, the stage.

But it seems that lately corporations are finding it easy and “charming” to fire people for what they’ve done in the past, whether it’s an innocent joke or a misunderstanding.

Three things are forgotten when doing this:

  1. The person who says a sentence is not the same after 23 years, it has changed and matured. There is no point in judging a person based on behaviors from the distant past. It is no coincidence that Kentaro Kobayashi immediately apologized saying:“ Entertainment shouldn’t make people uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words, at the time, was wrong, and I regret it.
  2. Taking action towards these past behaviors only angers true racists and homophobic. When you start so many witch trials over innocent people, the guilty one will feel right even more.
  3. Faced with a racist and homophobic Alt Right that is not afraid of being so extreme, these gestures are oppressive measures towards the wrong citizens. You shouldn’t fire a person who made a joke, you should fire the real racist or homophobe or anti-semite.

It seems quite clear to me that the Tokyo Olympics committee was looking for scapegoats in order to show themselves more progressive to their Westerners friends. Let’s not forget what happened before Kobayashi was fired:

  • Earlier this week, a composer quit the team creating the ceremony after it emerged he had bullied classmates with disabilities at school
  • In March, Olympics’ creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki quit after suggesting that plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe could appear as an “Olympig”. He later apologised
  • And in February, Yoshiro Mori was forced to step down as the head of the organising committee after he made remarks about women that were criticised as “inappropriate”.

What happened in the organization of Tokyo 2020 Olympics is the clear demonstration of the direction in which a certain type of politics is heading:

Punish the weak and set the guilty free.

Let’s hope this kind of political thinking will end soon.

Thank you for reading,

See you next time.



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Federico Mamone

Federico Mamone

Writer and Aspiring Journalist. I overthink therefore I am not sure what I am.