TOKYO—With hours to go before the start of an Olympics already fraught with controversy, organizers of the Tokyo Games announced Thursday they had fired their lead choreographer for the opening ceremonies, Bashar al-Assad, after learning about the Syrian president’s past use of chemical weapons. “It’s has recently come to our attention that in his earlier work, our dance director Mr. Assad has shown insensitivity to certain groups of people by publicly engaging in chemical warfare,” said organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, stating that officials had no idea that between 2012 and 2019 alone the choreographer had carried out more than 300 chemical attacks on the Syrian people, or they never would have hired him to teach hundreds of performers a highly intricate original dance sequence to kick off the Summer Games. “No one, no matter how accomplished or creative, has the right to unleash chlorine, sarin, and sulfur mustard gas on anyone, let alone a marginalized group, and we apologize for unknowingly giving such a person an international platform. Any connection between the Tokyo Olympics and one of our century’s most heinous war criminals is, of course, regrettable. While it is too late to remove Mr. Assad’s sprightly and sophisticated dance routines from our opening ceremony, as of today he has been formally dismissed.” At press time, Hashimoto announced that she was feeling a little woozy before collapsing to the floor.
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