Opening ceremony director fired over Holocaust joke

On the eve of the Tokyo Games, organizers fired the director of the opening ceremony after he made a joke about the holocaust.

The joke was made by Kentaro Kobayashi in the 1990s, but resurfaced in local media.

The head of the organizing committee Seiko Hashimoto apologized on Thursday for causing any trouble and worry after Kobayashi got the boot.

"We are just a day before the opening ceremony and I think all of the people involved in this game and also the Japanese public, I'd like to extend my sincere apology."

It's the latest embarrassment for the Tokyo organizsers.

Media also reported that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a staunch advocate for the Tokyo Games, would skip the showpiece event.

Abe - who famously dressed as video game character Mario at the Rio Games to represent Japan - was instrumental in winning the Olympics host bid.

Earlier this week a well-known musician was also forced to step down as composer of the vent, after old reports of his bullying and abusive behavior were uncovered.

The opening ceremony on Friday is set to be a subdued with just 950 people - including only around 15 global leaders - set to attend.

Spectators have been barred from most Olympic events as COVID-19 cases surge in the capital.

One veteran PR executive called the last minute personnel changes, resurfacing of past abusive comments, and the looming presence of the pandemic a recipe for a "PR disaster".

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