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Japan scraps Tokyo Olympics logo amid plagiarism controversy

Japan scraps Tokyo Olympics logo amid plagiarism controversy


Decision marks latest setback in Japan's Olympic preparations

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Japan's Olympic committee has decided to scrap the logo for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, following accusations of plagiarism. The committee announced the decision after convening an emergency meeting Tuesday evening, reversing its stance on the logo after it was revealed that the designer, Kenjiro Sano, used images taken from the internet when presenting it, and that his studio copied designs for a previous promotional campaign.

"We have reached a conclusion that it would be only appropriate for us to drop the logo and develop a new emblem," Toshio Muto, director general of the Tokyo organizing committee, said in a press conference following Tuesday's meeting. "At this point, we have decided that the logo cannot gain public support."

After the logos was unveiled in July, Belgian designer Olivier Debie accused Sano of copying a graphic he created for a theater company in Liège, and later took legal action to block the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from using the designs. In July, Debie's studio posted a side-by-side photo of the logos on its Facebook page, noting that "even the [typography] is the same."

Le nouveau logo des jeux Olympiques de Tokyo 2020 face au logo du Théâtre de Liège dont le projet initial date de 2011…...

Posted by Studio Debie on Monday, July 27, 2015

Japan's Olympic committee had stood by Sano's design as recently as Friday, when Muto told reporters that officials "are confident that the Games' logo design is original." Last month Sano said that he had never been to Belgium and had not seen Debie's logo. But Sano later admitted that his team copied graphic designs for a beer brand's promotional campaign. He apologized for the incident, saying that he was unaware that his subordinates had used other designs.

Speaking to reporters today, Muto said the committee would hold a competition for a new logo, though he did not offer a timetable for the process.

Today's announcement marks the latest setback for the 2020 Summer Olympics. In July, the Olympic committee decided to abandon plans for Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, due to escalating costs. The stadium will not be ready for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as originally planned, and organizers are now racing to meet their new deadline of January 2020.