TOPOlympic Coordinators Announce Logo Contest, but Doubts Persist

Olympic Coordinators Announce Logo Contest, but Doubts Persist

By Alec Jordan

If Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games committee seemed irresponsible, aloof and out of touch with the public’s needs after bungling the proceedings for the event’s logo, then those coordinators appear to be making amends with their plan for a new emblem.

On Friday the The Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee announced a contest that would allow “everyone regardless of previous experience or formal qualifications” to submit designs of their own for consideration. From Tuesday, November 24, to Monday, December 7, applicants can submit drafts for their design via a website that will be announced at a later date.

The contest’s individual applications are open to Japanese nationals and foreigners with the right of residence in Japan, while children or expats without residence can partner with a national or resident and enter through the group entries system (limited to a maximum of ten people).

In its announcement, the committee said participants should remember that the logo should “symbolize the fact that the 2020 Games are being held in Tokyo and Japan, and elicit empathy with people across the world. The designs should endeavor to have widespread appeal before, during and long after the 2020 Games are over.”

The successful entry will be chosen by the Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee, who will then forward it to the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board for final approval. Once those criteria are met, the successful designer or designers will be invited to attend the opening ceremonies of both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2016.

These plans are a far cry from the Olympic logo’s earlier proceedings, in which the designer was accused of plagiarism and the public criticized the coordinator’s lack of transparency in the selection process.

On Twitter, graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy (@AJWShaughnessy) highlighted a few parts of the committee’s new announcement: “Last time, we placed too much importance on design expertise and qualifications. The judges were also designers,” and “Judges will include IT expert[s] & trademark experts, so if there’s copyright issue the judging panel will find it.” Of course, this prompted some snark from design firm Metric (@Metric_London), who said “maybe they’ll use designers and cooks to build the IT infrastructure!” Meanwhile, a commenter on The Japan Times coverage of the topic offered up a simple solution: “Pick a logo already! Use the rising sun with ‘2020’ over it, bam – done. No charge.”

A commenter on the Associated Press’s coverage had a less humorous, but more measured approach to the issue:

“It would be [a] very very hard job to choose [a] really original design after such a scandal. You must research all over the world to make sure the new logo is really original. Not only logos registered as trademark or on the internet, but also unregistered or not on the net. I think it’s impossible. I’m sure there will be [the] same kind of problem, after the selection of the new logo.”

Time will tell whether those doubts will persist, or if the public will warm to the Olympic coordinators’ more open approach.

–Kyle Mullin

Image: Wikimedia (slight alteration)