PARIS – A Belgium-based designer has expressed surprise on social media that the emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games unveiled last week closely resembles the logo for a theater in Liege, eastern Belgium, that his studio crafted.
“I cannot judge whether it was stolen or inspired by my work. I’m consulting with my lawyer,” Olivier Debie said on Wednesday, adding that he expects to decide this week whether to take legal action.
The 52-year-old a photo posted on Facebook of the two works side by side a few days earlier, expressing the amazement he felt when he saw them. In a separate post, his studio also said “There is a striking resemblance between the two logos.”
The emblem for the Tokyo Olympics, produced by Kenjiro Sano, a 43-year-old Japanese art director, was unveiled last Friday. It features a central column in black, which the organizing committee says was inspired by the letter T, representing Tokyo, Team and Tomorrow.
The logo for Theatre de Liege has a similar shape in white against a black background. Debie’s studio says it has been involved in the theater’s logo design project since 2011.
This could prove to be another embarrassment for the Tokyo Games organizers as some social media posters and media reports suspect the emblem was plagiarized, although organizers deny that allegation. The Japanese government and the organizers have also moved to scrap the design of the main Olympic stadium amid a public outcry over skyrocketing cost projections.
Masanori Takaya, publicity chief of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said: “We announced the emblem after going through the international trademark registration process. We are not particularly worried about this.”
Toshiro Muto, director general of the committee, said at a press conference Friday: “We decided (on the emblem) following approvals of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee after completing a vetting process of international trademarks.”
Debie said that he received an email from a friend about a “look-alike” Olympic logo after Friday’s unveiling. He started consulting with his lawyer after the Liege theater said to him earlier this week that some action should be taken.