Olympic opening ceremony director fired over Holocaust joke

Japanese PM claimed the remarks were 'unacceptable'

Olympic opening ceremony director fired over Holocaust joke

Kentaro Kobayashi, the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony director, has been fired after he was found to have made a Holocaust joke in the 1990s. Former comedian Kobayashi has been criticized over a sketch he performed 23 years ago, in which he joked about a game called “let’s massacre the Jews” – according to The Guardian.

The Japanese Prime Minister claimed the remarks were “unacceptable” – as did Olympic chief Seiko Hashimoto. Responding to his dismissal, Kobayashi apologised, saying that “entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable” – and that he “regrets it”.

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Speaking to HRD, Suzanne Staunton of JMW, added: “Employers should exercise caution when seeking to discipline employees for alleged historic behaviour. Generally, when looking at tweets, employers will also need to be extremely mindful of employees’ rights to hold philosophical beliefs, and when seeking to put employees through the disciplinary process, will need to look at first, whether what was said might constitute a philosophical belief (which is a complex legal test), and second how they have manifested that belief.

“If that belief has been set out in a harassing and hateful fashion, then it may justify disciplinary action, as the employer is not then disciplining the employee for the belief, but rather, the vitriol used.”

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This is not the first scandal to hit the upcoming Olympics, with creative chief Hiroshi Sasaki having quit after calling plus-size comedian Naomi Watanabe an “Olympig”. 

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