Sep 2, 2015

Ringing the Changes - Tokyo 2020 Olympic Logo Scrapped

The logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games ("Games") has been scrapped after accusations of plagiarism against designer Kenjiro Sano.

A Belgian artist has complained that his design was stolen and the Games organising committee said there were too many doubts over the emblem for it to be used.  Belgian designer Olivier Debie claimed that the design was similar to his 2013 logo for the Theatre de Liege. He and the theatre had filed a lawsuit against the IOC to prevent it being used.

The logo was unveiled only last month, based around the letter T and a red circle representing a beating heart - which critics said resembled the Japanese flag. Sano had earlier said his Tokyo 2020 design was inspired by the emblem used when the city first hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964, adding that he had never set eyes on the Théâtre de Liège design.

Its withdrawal without a finding of any legal infringement is an unusual move especially given the statement by Toshio Muto, director general of the Tokyo organising committee, "We're certain the two logos are different".

However, Sano's own attempts to defend his Olympic design as an original were undermined by allegations that he had plagiarised other designs in the past.  He was forced to acknowledge that some of the images he used on tote bags to promote a Japanese brewery incorporated the work of other designers, but blamed the reproductions on his assistants.  He was also forced to deny he had drawn heavily on the motif of Costa Rica's national museum in a logo he designed for a zoo in Nagoya.

It represents yet another embarrassing turn of events for the Games after it abandoned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid's design for a new main stadium after costs soared to almost twice the initial estimate.  The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had to apologise for wasting taxpayers' money on paying Hadid for her futuristic stadium design.

Construction is a year behind schedule, forcing the Olympic minister, Toshiaki Endo, to concede that it might not be possible to meet the International Olympic Committee's January 2020 deadline for completion of the new stadium.

The arena, the cost of which has been capped at 155bn yen (£844m), will now not be ready in time to host matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. In response, World Rugby has demanded a new proposal for its World Cup venues and assurances about the tournament's financial security by the end of this month.


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