Tokyo 2020 Olympics ditch logo amid accusations of plagiarism

Oliver Debie

Belgian designer Olivier Debie alongside the former logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, left, and the logo he designed for the Theatre de Liege in 2013.

(Sophie Kip / AFP/Getty Images)

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are logo-less once again.

A month after unveiling a design that incorporated the letter T and a red circle like the one from the Japanese flag, Tokyo Olympic organizers have decided to drop the image amid accusations of plagiarism.

The announcement was made Tuesday, just four days after the organizers stated their public support of designer Kenjiro Sano following initial allegations that he had copied a 2013 logo for the Theatre de Liege by Belgian designer Olivier Debie.

Debie and the theater had filed a lawsuit to prevent the Tokyo Games from using Sano’s design.


“We’re certain the two logos are different,” Toshio Muto, director general of the Tokyo organizing committee, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “But we became aware of new things this weekend and there was a sense of crisis that we thought could not be ignored.

“We have reached a conclusion that it would be only appropriate for us to drop the logo and develop a new emblem. At this point, we have decided that the logo cannot gain public support.”

Sano has admitted that some of his designs in the past have copied others’ works, but said his assistants were responsible. He also faces allegations that his designs for a zoo and museum in Japan resemble designs by others.

The 43-year-old designer offered to withdraw his Olympic logo Tuesday but denied any wrongdoing.


“I swear my design did not involve copies or plagiarism,” Sano said in a statement on his website late Tuesday. “Any attempt of suspected copying or plagiarism should never be permitted.”

A competition will be held to select a new Olympic logo, Muto said.

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