TOPBack to the Drawing Board as Tokyo 2020 Organizers Scrap Logo

Back to the Drawing Board as Tokyo 2020 Organizers Scrap Logo

By Alec Jordan

After weeks of swirling allegations of plagiarism and escalating public criticism, Tokyo’s Olympic coordinators decided to scrap the logo for its 2020 games. The T motif design had been lambasted by critics for looking too similar to an emblem crafted by Belgian artist Olivier Debie for his nation’s Theatre de Liege.

The logo designer, Kenjiro Sano, had steadfastly denied such charges of plagiarism, saying the red sphere in his emblem was wholly original and meant to evoke the Japanese flag. Meanwhile the Olympic organizers had stood by Sano in public statements as recently as last Friday. According to The Guardian, Toshiro Muto, director general of the Tokyo Olympic Committee, was previously quoted as saying “we are convinced that the design of the Tokyo Olympics logo is original … It’s a powerful and simple design. Despite all the development, we will continue our effort so that the people will keep using the logo.”

However, growing public displeasure with the logo eventually promoted the coordinators to give in. Muto was quoted by CNN yesterday as saying, “using the logo that is not supported by the public is not quite suitable (for the success of the Olympics).”

Sano appeared to do his best to take the news in stride. While he maintained his innocence in a statement on his website, writing that he “never copied or plagiarized” the logo, the designer did admit that “failed to properly handle jobs other than the logo.” Such an unspecific explanation likely did little to placate his critics, who were described in the CNN article as “Internet users (who) began to dig into Sano’s previous work” only to find that he had previously been accused of designing a Tokyo logo that looked similar to the work of a German typographer. Other accusers had found that Sano had “a tote bag found to have used others’ images without permission.”

The Guardian described this controversy a testament to just how “hapless” the preparation for the 2020 Olympics has been. Indeed, Tokyo 2020’s organizers and enthusiasts are still reeling from the late July announcement that the stadium design—which was, too put it gently, not universally loved—that had been planned for the games’ venue had been scrapped, due to public vitriol that had been as strident as the latest protests against the logo.

—Kyle Mullin

Image: via designboom (Slightly modified)