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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Dismissed Over Holocaust Joke

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The Tokyo Organising Committee announced Thursday that it had dismissed the director of the Olympics opening ceremony.

Organisers say Kentaro Kobayashi was dismissed because of comments he made in the late 1990s about the Holocaust.

Kobayashi was removed from his post right after the sketch came to the attention of organizers.

In the wake of the latest scandal, Tokyo Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto offered an apology for any offense and anguish the incident may have caused those involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and people around the world.

In the sketch, Kobayashi turns to his comedy partner and, referring to some crumpled paper doll cutouts, says they are “the ones from that time you said, ‘let’s play the Holocaust,'” sparking laughter from the audience. About 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the genocide.

In explaining the decision to remove Kobayashi from his role, Hashimoto said that the remarks “pertain to a diplomatic controversy.”

Kobayashi’s sketch has drawn flak nationwide. The news prompted Yasuhide Nakayama, the state minister of defense, to report it to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a Jewish human rights organization that investigates anti-Semitic incidents, Nakayama said on Twitter.

The center condemned Kobayashi’s behavior and called his joke anti-Semitic.

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC associate dean and global social action director, said in a statement. “The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics.”

The organizing committee said it was not aware of Kobayashi’s past actions and began considering disciplinary action as soon as the news reached them by early Thursday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday called the line from the sketch “inexcusable.”

The 48-year-old former comedian was notified of his dismissal Thursday morning.

In a comment read out by Hashimoto, Kobayashi apologized profusely and expressed his remorse over his previous actions, admitting that his lines used in his sketch were inappropriate and that he had realized his choice of words was a mistake.

“I would like to apologize to those who were offended. I apologize for any offense I may have caused,” he said in a statement.

“I think it was a time when I couldn’t make people laugh as much as I wanted, and I was trying to attract people’s attention in a shallow way,” Kobayashi said, referring to criticism his past work has drawn.

“As a person whose job is to entertain people, I should never make people feel uncomfortable,” he said. “After that, I realized that it was not good for me and I had a change of heart.”

He said he later tried to correct his actions, adding, “(I) started to aim for laughter that does not hurt people.”

As Kobayashi was responsible for overseeing the program for the opening ceremony and related preparations, the organizers said they are reviewing the program so it can be delivered in such a way that the scandal does not eclipse the concept and message of the event.

The organizers have already been forced to remove a roughly four-minute composition by Oyamada, who resigned Monday, which was supposed to be played at the start of the ceremony, and consider an alternative plan. Initially, the committee had defended the musician.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Paris To Host Paralympic Games In 2024

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Paris city of France will host the 17th edition of Paralympic Games scheduled for 2024.

The curtain fell on the 16th Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on 5 September, in Tokyo Japan.

The Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike passed the Paralympic flag to International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, who then passed it to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The orange Paralympic flame turned purple — the colour of WeThe15.

The entire Stadium was alight with the glow of a sunset, which went smaller and smaller, fading into the Cauldron. The Paralympic Flame was extinguished like the setting sun.

“These Games helped fulfill the dreams of many here in Tokyo and fuelled the ambitions of many more watching at home,” said Parsons.

“The Paralympic Movement has a message for you: Tokyo ga daisuki desu, We love you Tokyo; Nihon ga daisuki desu, we love you Japan! Immense gratitude to all the people that delivered these Games.”

And finally, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games came to a close. The spirit of the Games will be carried now in the 2024 Games.

The just concluded Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics show how Japan made the world sit back and take notice of their organisational capabilities and more importantly, their will and determination to keep their promise, made eight years ago, of delivering a mega event.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Peru Gets First Medal in 21 years With Paralympic Taekwondo Gold

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Angelica Espinoza was a young 15-year-old schoolgirl when she started following the London 2012 Paralympic Games on TV from her home city of Lima, Peru.

“That is when I got to know about the Paralympic Movement and when I promised myself that I had to be there one day,” she recalled.

Little did she know back then that nine years later she would become taekwondo’s first Paralympic champion ever and Peru’s first gold medallist in over two decades.

“From that first time I watched Para sport until now, I made everything I could to fulfil my dream. I fell in love with taekwondo, which I realised I was good at, and knew I had chances of improving and hopefully reaching the Paralympics one day.”

Fast-forward eight years and Espinoza was arriving in Tokyo as one of the heavy favourites for gold in the women’s K44 -49kg event.

At her home Parapan American Games in Lima in 2019, she had provided the hosts with one of the event’s enduring memories by winning gold. She followed that up with multiple titles at five of the six competitions she took part in prior to Tokyo 2020.

Not even the pandemic made her lose focus on her big goal. “I even feel the pandemic gave me this opportunity to prepare myself for an extra year. I trained hard over the last month and it was my dream to be here today standing on that podium and listening to the national anthem.”

In a thrilling final, she beat Turkey’s world No.2 Meryem Cavdar, therefore achieving Peru’s first Paralympic title in 21 years and first medal in 17.

“It is really exciting for me; all three combats were really tough and I feel very proud with the result, being the first taekwondo Paralympic champion feels great.”

Espinoza is confident her victory will help raise further awareness of Para sports in her country. “There will be more support and visibility,” she said.

Looking ahead to her next competitions, including the Santiago 2023 Parapan Ams and the Paris 2024 Paralympics, the 23-year-old does not want to want to lose her place atop of the podium. “I want to keep winning medals.”

She also has a final message for all her followers in Peru and around the world: “I want to tell them to strive and work hard to achieve what they want. Dreams do come true.”

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TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020

Rwanda Takes On Japan In Sitting Volleyball

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Rwanda is scheduled to takeon Japan on Friday evening in the womens sitting volleyball at the ongoing Paralympics in Tokyo.

The World ParaVolley kicked off on August 24 and will conclude on September 5 according to the fixture list for both the men’s and women’s competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Team Rwanda is drawn from Group B alongside USA, China, Russia. Meanwhile Group A includes; Japan, Canada, Brazil and Italy.

Team Rwanda are the African champions in the women’s sitting volleyball.

Rwanda is the first Sub-Saharan women’s team in history, in any sport, to compete at the Paralympic Games at Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, with the U.S. leading 24-22 and about to serve for match point in a must-win women’s sitting volleyball encounter Wednesday, the Russian Paralympic Committee called a time out.

U.S. coach Bill Hamiter took the occasion to offer his team a little advice.

“Let your training do the work,” Hamiter told his players during the break.

The Americans returned to the court at Makuhari Messe Hall, and Heather Erickson immediately served for the deciding point that gave the U.S. a 3-0 victory over the RPC (25-19, 25-15, 25-22) and propelled the defending Paralympic gold medalists into the semifinals.

The U.S., which scored the final five points of the third set, will face Brazil, a 3-1 winner over Italy, in the first semifinal on Friday. China and Canada will square off in the other semifinal.

“We know them pretty well,” said Hamiter of Brazil. “Of course, we’ll start looking at the video that we have, breaking things down, start our preparations tonight, actually, so we can go through our practice plans tomorrow.”

The U.S. and the RPC had entered the match with identical 1-1 records in Pool B preliminary round play. They had each defeated Rwanda in straight sets but lost 3-0 decisions to China. The U.S. was coming off the loss to China.

“We sided out way better today than we did against China,” Hamiter said. “I don’t know that we attacked better. I think it was maybe more well-timed plays, some things like that.

“Our vision of the court was way better today — seeing blocks, seeing what’s open, making smart shots, limiting our errors — all those little things that matter.”

After the Americans won the first two sets with relative ease, the RPC fought back to lead most of the way in the third set and threatened to extend the match.

“I don’t know if they were feeling as much pressure as I was,” Hamiter said of his players. “Every one of the games that I’ve coached, we’ve always had to win one of those matches to make it into the medal rounds. So, we’re used to it, but it’s always one of those things where you sweat it out.

“I liked the first two sets, and then that third set (we) had to struggle a little bit, but then (had) a great comeback.”

The U.S. battled back and eventually tied it at 20-20 on a Lora Webster serve. The RPC scored the next two to go up 22-20, but then the Americans went on their closing spurt to put away the match.

“What we did today directly built off of what we tried to work on yesterday,” Webster said. “In the third set, we came out behind, and we had to dig ourselves out of a hole, and there was no frantic energy.

“Everybody was calm. We all knew what we had to do. And that just goes to show what we worked on yesterday really showed up on the court, and I’m just excited by what we did.”

According to Webster, as the Americans head into the semifinals, they will focus on what they can control on their side of the net.

“People are going to falter, but it’s a team sport for a reason,” Webster said. “So, we’ve got to figure out how to pick each other up, and we did that here. And as long as we continue to do that, then we’ll be on the right trajectory going into the semifinals and, hopefully, into the finals.”

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