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Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony, was dismissed late Wednesday over footage of him joking about the Holocaust.

Kobayashi, who joked about the Holocaust as a “let’s massacre Jewish people game” in one clip, previously made his name as one of Japan’s biggest comedians.

Just this week, Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada pulled out of the opening ceremony after old interviews in which he admitted to bullying resurfaced.

Oyamada, 52, bragged in the 1990s that he forced a disabled boy to masturbate in front of others and to eat his own feces. A musical piece he composed for the ceremony has been dropped from the extravaganza.

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Blinken meets WHO director-general to push investigation in coronavirus origins

KUWAIT CITY — World Health Organization investigators ought to return to China for “studies into the” origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who urged a meeting with the global health body’s chief.

“He stressed the need for the next phase to be timely, evidence-based, transparent, expert-led, and free from interference,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday evening after Blinken’s discussion with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Chinese officials have opposed a second inquiry because WHO officials have signaled they would explore the hypothesis the contagion spilled out of a virology lab in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected. A previous WHO investigation declared this idea “extremely unlikely,” but Tedros acknowledged this finding was “premature” after U.S. and European officials denounced China’s lack of candor with the investigators. One of the outspoken critics of the so-called lab leak theory was also recused from the investigative team over an apparent conflict of interest.

"Secretary Blinken affirmed U.S. support for the WHO’s plans to conduct additional studies into the COVID-19 origins, including in the People’s Republic of China," Price said. “Secretary Blinken emphasized the importance of the international community coming together on this matter of critical concern and reiterated our support for a multilateral approach to global health security more broadly."


China has touted a close partnership with the WHO from the earliest days of the pandemic, citing the credibility of the health agency to deflect criticisms lodged by foreign officials, especially former President Donald Trump’s administration. Tedros’s amplification of inaccurate information provided by Chinese officials made him a target of international outrage, even as WHO officials privately acknowledged frustration with the lack of transparency by Chinese officials.

Tedros has been at odds with Beijing lately due to his acknowledgment “there was a premature push to, you know, especially reduce one of the options, like the lab theory.” Chinese National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin responded by accusing Tedros of failing to “respect science or common sense” by endorsing a proposal to reconsider that hypothesis in a second investigation.

“We won’t follow such a plan,” Zeng said, renewing China’s call to investigate whether the coronavirus emerged elsewhere in the world. “We hope that with full consultation with member states, early-stage case search should be conducted in multiple countries globally.”


Blinken reminded Tedros that a credible investigation of China’s handling of the outbreak is necessary “to better understand the current pandemic and prevent future ones.”

News Foreign Policy National Security Antony Blinken Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus World Health Organization Coronavirus

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