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Japan has scrapped the 2020 Olympics logo after a plagiarism scandal

The logo bears certain similarities to a design for a Belgian theatre company. It’s been quite the controversy in Japan.

TOKYO’S 2020 OLYMPICS organisers have scrapped the event’s scandal-hit logo in the latest mishap for the Games after a costs furore forced plans for a €1.8 billion new national stadium to be torn up.

The decision – which comes amid plagiarism claims and mounting questions about the logo designer’s credibility – caps an embarrassing month for Olympic officials as the ditching of the stadium means a new showpiece may only be ready a few months before the global event.

Japanese Olympic bosses announced their decision at a hastily arranged press conference, in a stark reversal just days after they vowed to stand behind the logo and designer Kenjiro Sano.

Japan Olympic Tokyo 2020 Logo Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano at July's press conference. Source: Associated Press

Officials said their decision was not in response to a Belgian designer’s lawsuit that alleged Sano copied his work.

Instead, they pointed to slumping public confidence and evidence that Sano had improperly swiped internet images to highlight locations where his logo could be displayed.

“We’re certain the two logos are different,” Toshiro Muto, director general of the Tokyo Organising Committee, said of Belgian Olivier Debie’s plagiarism claims.

“But we became aware of new things this weekend and there was a sense of crisis that we thought could not be ignored.

“The reason we’re withdrawing (the logo) is because it no longer has public support.”

Sano himself has asked that his logo be pulled to avoid damaging the Tokyo Games, Muto added.

“We want to create a new emblem that represents the Tokyo Olympics and that is loved and supported by the public,” Tokyo’s Olympic boss said.

logo1 The two logos side by side.

While Sano has denied copying Debie’s work, he has admitted that his team copied someone else’s designs for work they did on a beer promotion campaign for Japanese drinks giant Suntory.

An online petition with more than 22,000 signatures has called on officials to choose another image.


Tokyo’s Olympic emblem has been swept up in controversy since its unveiling in July after Debie said it copied work he had done for a Belgian theatre company.

He took the International Olympic Committee to court to block it from using the logo.

The IOC has rejected the claims and the committee’s Muto last week insisted they had no plans to change the logo.

Tokyo’s emblem is based around the letter “T” – for Tokyo, tomorrow and team – with a red circle said to represent a beating heart.

The theatre’s design features a similar shape in white against a black background.

Japanese Olympic officials are still smarting over the national stadium fiasco after Abe ordered plans to be torn up in the face of growing anger over its cost.

It was on track to become the most expensive sports stadium in history.

Last week, Japan said it would slash the cost of the showpiece venue by more than 40 percent, setting a cap of 155 billion yen (€1.15 billion) on construction costs.

© AFP, 2015

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