Designer disputes plagiarism claim against Tokyo Olympics logo


A graphic designer who headed the committee that selected the logo designed by Kenjiro Sano for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has disputed a claim that the design is similar to a Belgian theater logo.

“The Belgian side has claimed the Sano design is plagiarism, but Sano’s original design does not resemble the Belgian theater logo,” 86-year-old Kazumasa Nagai said on Wednesday. “The original concept and its evolution do not represent any similarity to the Belgian one.”

Sano’s original design did not include the part in the lower right that looks like an “L” that is in the final design and which it is claimed is similar to the logo for the Belgian Theatre de Liege, Nagai said.

The original had been revised several times to eventually include that part, in an effort to avoid any similarity to other registered trademarks, he said.

The eight-member committee first selected three candidates from 104 proposals for the Tokyo Olympics logo and finally adopted the one submitted by Sano, who is 43.

As for the allegation that a Sano-led team stole design ideas from other artists for promotional tote bags offered by Suntory Beer Ltd., Nagai said that may be true.

Sano, known as a very busy designer, might have failed to check and see if his team members had copied the work of others, Nagai said.

“Sano should have been responsible for thoroughly checking the whole designing process for the design order he received under his name,” Nagai said.