Tokyo 2020 scraps logo in latest blow to reputation

Tue Sep 1, 2015 5:58am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers on Tuesday scrapped the Games logo over accusations of plagiarism, maintaining that it was not copied but saying too many doubts had been raised for it to be usable.

The unusual decision is the latest embarrassment for Japan as it prepares to hold the Games for the second time and follows its scrapping of plans for the new Olympic stadium, further blackening its self-proclaimed reputation as a "safe pair of hands" to host the sports extravaganza.

Questions about the 2020 logo arose immediately after its July unveiling when Belgian designer Olivier Debie said it was too similar to his logo for the Theatre de Liege and demanded its use be halted. He and the theater subsequently filed a lawsuit in a local court.

Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 CEO, said designer Kenjiro Sano continued to deny copying the emblem, but that he felt the public doubts about it were in danger of damaging the reputation of the Olympics, so he requested that it be withdrawn.

"We decided that to honor Sano's judgment and start working on a new logo was the most appropriate choice for resolving this situation," Muto told a packed news conference broadcast live on almost all television stations.

He apologized to the people of Japan, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and to sponsors for "causing trouble", adding that a new logo would be decided as soon as possible and in open competition.

Sano said from the start that accusations he had plagiarized the logo announced on July 24 -- a stylized "T" with a red circle symbolic of Japan's flag -- were 'groundless', and Japanese officials backed him up, saying thorough checks had raised no legal issues.

But public concern grew last month after Sano's office asked a beer company to withdraw some designs for promotional goods, admitting that they had been copied. A survey by TBS television found that 85 percent of respondents felt the logo should be changed.   Continued...

Kenjiro Sano, designer of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games logos, explains about the designs during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, August 5, 2015.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino