Japan dismisses plagiarism claims over 2020 logo

Thu Jul 30, 2015 1:51am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Olympics organizers said there is no problem with their new logo after discussions arose about possible plagiarism, with internet commentators suggesting there was a resemblance to an overseas design.

The emblem, unveiled last week, had already received mixed reviews from the Japanese public and risks becoming the latest in a series of missteps to mar Japan's reputation as it prepares to host the Summer Games for the second time in 2020.

Designed by Kenjiro Sano, the logo -- which includes black for diversity and a red circle that echoes the Japanese flag -- centers around a loose representation of the letter "T".

But questions about the motif erupted on social media after Belgian-based designer Olivier Debie uploaded the logo for the Theatre de Liege in Belgium, with many commentators demanding clarification about what they said was too much similarity.

"Eh, going as far as plagiarism? We must have an explanation," one Japanese commenter tweeted.

NHK national television said the emblem also resembled the logo drawn up by a Spanish designer to help raise money for Japan after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee insisted the design underwent thorough checks before being unveiled.

"Prior to the selection of this design, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee conducted long, extensive and international verifications through a transparent process," they said in a statement.   Continued...

Koji Murofushi (R), Olympic gold medal-winning hammer thrower and Tokyo 2020 Sports Director, poses for pictures in front of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games emblems after an unveiling event at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino