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Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony director fired for Holocaust joke

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TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”

“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said. “We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country.”

Tokyo has been plagued with scandals since being awarded the Games in 2013. French investigators are looking into alleged bribes paid to International Olympic Committee members to influence the vote for Tokyo. The fallout forced the resignation two years ago of Tsunekazu Takeda, who headed the Japanese Olympic Committee and was an IOC member.

The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games is scheduled for Friday. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.

“We are going to have the opening ceremony tomorrow and, yes, I am sure there are a lot of people who are not feeling easy about the opening of the Games,” Hashimoto said. “But we are going to open the Games tomorrow under this difficult situation.”

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was to be used at the ceremony, was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. The segment of his music will not be used.

Soon after a video clip and script of Kobayashi’s performance were revealed, criticism flooded social media.

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group.

He also noted that the Nazis 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,” he said.

Kobayashi is a former member of a popular comedy duo Rahmens and known overseas for comedy series including “The Japanese Tradition.”

Japan is pushing ahead with the Olympics against the advice of most of its medical experts. This is partially due to pressure from the IOC, which is estimated to face losses of $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights income if the Games were not held.

“We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message,” Hashimoto said. “Toward the very end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image toward Tokyo 2020.”

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, also acknowledged the reputational damage.

“Maybe these negative incidents will impact the positive message we wanted to deliver to the world,” he said.

The last-minute scandals come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were the latest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress as a pig.

Also this week, the chiropractor for the American women’s wrestling team apologized after comparing Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany in a social media post. Rosie Gallegos-Main, the team’s chiropractor since 2009, will be allowed to finish her planned stay at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.

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India can pick two more teams and still win any competition in the world, states Hardik Pandya

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Hardik Pandya has spoken highly of India’s remarkable bench strength across formats and believes that the team can end up winning any competition in the world even if they pick ‘C’ or ‘D’ string sides. India, on Tuesday, sealed a series win over Sri Lanka despite fielding a second-string team.

Building a world talent pool has been integral to team India’s sustained success over the past decade, and nothing served as a testament to the same more than the tour of Australia last winter. Without their skipper Virat Kohli, and without a handful of senior players, the Indian side ended up winning 2-1 Down Under, in the process breaching Gabba for the first time this century.

But while the side that triumphed in Australia had a fair mix of first-teamers and newcomers, the contingent currently in Sri Lanka is dominated by debutants and newcomers, with only a handful of seniors present in the entire squad. And the inexperienced squad, on Tuesday, sealed a 2-0 series win to project the scary strength in depth the country possesses.

Hardik Pandya is one of the few seniors in the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka, but the all-rounder believes the team could do without him and other seniors. Speaking ahead of the third ODI, Pandya insisted that India ‘can pick two more teams and still win any competition in the world’, singing praises about the country’s talent pool.

“Our roles are very clear, even in the main team. The kind of talent which the Indian team posses right now, I think we can pick two more teams and win any competition in the world,” Pandya told the host broadcaster, reported Cricbuzz.

On a personal note, however, 2021 has been a tough year for Pandya, who has struggled to build on the promise he showed in the tour of Australia last year. So far this year, across formats, Pandya has struck a solitary fifty in Indian colours, averaging 25.62, while he also had a rough IPL, averaging 8.66 from 7 outings. Now a more mature cricketer, Pandya, however, insisted that failures a part of a cricketer’s journey, and revealed that he has learned to celebrate bad days.

“I understand that in life you have to keep growing. As a cricketer and a person you need to keep growing. My process is just growing as a human being. You tend to make mistakes, you fail, but I like to celebrate my failures. I like to celebrate my bad days, it is a part of the sport and it teaches you a lot of things. I like to remember it.”

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Byron Buxton trade: Ideal fits for Buxton before 2021 MLB Trade Deadline

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Byron Buxton would be a man in demand if the Twins make him available. Photo from Puckett’s Pond.

Just when he was starting to become one of the best outfielders in 2021, it looks like the Minnesota Twins might be trading Byron Buxton. While he’s spent a lot of time on the IL during his breakout season, a Byron Buxton trade could be in the works if he’s unwilling to sign an extension with the Twins. At least those are what the latest Buxton trade rumors would indicate.

The Twins, after all, are in a rather precarious position. They began the season expecting to compete but fell flat on their face. It’s possible that Minnesota could hit the reset button in 2022 and try again. But as a small-market team, they could trade away some of their best chips and enter a rebuilding phase. The latter possibility has brought about the Buxton trade rumors.

Buxton trade rumors

The 27-year-old Buxton could be an interesting addition to the trade market this summer. A fractured hand sent him to the IL in June, but it won’t keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. In just 27 games this season, he’s batting .369 with an OPS of 1.176, performing like one of the best outfielders in 2021. If Buxton comes anywhere close to producing those numbers when he returns, he’ll be an impact player.

But if the Twins decide to trade him, where will he go?

Yankees

The Yankees are the obvious fit for Buxton. They need at least one outfielder, although trading for two before the deadline isn’t a bad idea either.

More than anything, they need a bonafide center fielder, which is what they’ll get in Buxton. The likes of Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and other fill-ins aren’t getting the job done and a Byron Buxton trade would be a huge upgrade for the Bronx Bombers.

Astros

Houston isn’t in dire need of a center fielder given the rest of the team’s lineup. But Buxton would represent an immediate upgrade over youngster Myles Straw.

It would be the type of move that would prove that the Astros are serious about contending for another World Series.

Braves

Even though Atlanta just traded for Joc Pederson, the Braves could still make a play for Buxton. Keep in mind they’ve lost both Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuna, this year, so Pederson alone isn’t going to fill those holes.

Even with Pederson on board, the likes of Guillermo Heredia and Abraham Almonte are playing regularly in the Atlanta outfield. Trading for Buxton would solve some of their problems, giving them a viable bat and an elite defender in the same package.

Phillies

Much like the Braves, the Phillies have to think the Mets are vulnerable in the NL East, so a big trade for a player like Buxton could make a big difference. Outside of Bryce Harper, there’s not much to like about the Philadelphia outfield.

Andrew McCutchen is showing his age and who knows how long Travis Jankowski can keep being a viable place-holder in center field. That makes Philadelphia the ideal landing spot for Buxton.

Brewers

The Brew Crew is looking better and better but they still need a little more offensively. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Lorenzo Cain aren’t getting the job done in center field. Buxton would be the perfect solution for Milwaukee, especially since Bradley and Cain are there to provide depth if Buxton gets hurt again.

While the Brewers look good to win the NL Central, they’ll need to make a meaningful improvement at the deadline if they want to make noise in October, which is why Buxton should be on their radar.

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Podcast: Enter York Hall – Boxing News

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In this audio documentary relive York Hall’s great nights, fights and events that are the pillars of British boxing history

YORK HALL – the spiritual home of british boxing. Join us on an atmospheric deep-dive into the magic of the old venue that’s provided fight fans of all ages with so many special memories. From its 1929 opening as public baths in which Londoners would wash, right through to the present day – via visits from the likes of Tapia and Lomachenko – this audio documentary relives the great nights, fights and events that are pillars of British boxing history.

Boxers, promoters, referees, trainers, commentators and journalists relive their own personal highs and lows as the past, present and future of York Hall are explored in detail.

Written and produced by Darren Rees. Engineered at: Untapped talent recording studios (Southampton).

Please get in contact with your York Hall memories via Twitter: @ReesBoxing89 or [email protected]

Listen below:

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