Joke about Holocaust from 23 years ago cancels Olympic opening ceremony director

The creative director of the Olympics opening ceremony has been fired over a joke he made 23 years ago about the Holocaust during a comedy performance.

“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world,” the Olympic organizing committee said in a statement.

RELATED: Transgender runner ruled ineligible to compete in Olympics

The Olympic organizing committee dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi after a video surfaced online of him ridiculing “a painful historical event” during a comedy act he performed in 1998. Kobayashi used the phrase “Let’s Play Holocaust” during his comedy routine with paper dolls. 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Kobayashi’s comments were “outrageous and unacceptable.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, part of a Holocaust research center in the United States, said: “Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide.”

Kobayashi apologized, saying, “I’m in the business of entertaining people. It should never be the case that I make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my foolish choice of words at the time was a mistake, and I regret it.”

Kobayashi was formerly part of a comedy series called “The Japanese Tradition,” as well as Rahmens, a comedic duo.

RELATED: Female weightlifter allegedly displaced by biological male would have qualified for her first Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic committee has dealt with many scandals leading up to the Games. Earlier this week, a composer named Keigo Oyamada resigned after bullying allegations. Old interview scripts showed quotes from Oyamada about abusing other students, including disabled classmates. The interviews include Oyamada’s stories about forcing a child into a cardboard box and coercing a disabled student to masturbate in front of classmates and eat his own feces.

Hiroshi Sasaki, Tokyo Olympics’ creative chief, resigned in March after suggesting that plus-size female comedian Naomi Watanabe could wear pig ears in the opening ceremony and appear as an “Olympig.” 

Japan’s Olympic organizing chief, Yoshiro Mori, resigned in February over sexist remarks implying women talk too much.

RELATED: U.S. women’s soccer team loses match after kneeling during Olympic opener