Tokyo Olympics committee may ease new logo selection rules

Kyodo

The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee will consider relaxing the submission requirements for the public competition to select a new logo, officials said Wednesday, a day after the original logo was scrapped amid plagiarism allegations.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics committee will also seek to make the screening process more transparent, they said.

In the previous selection process, only designers who had won at least two of seven designated design awards were eligible for the logo competition, while the selection process was not disclosed.

The committee will consider expanding the range of those eligible to enter the competition.

The previous logo, selected from 104 designs, was retracted following a request from its creator, Kenjiro Sano, who said it no longer had public support amid growing doubts over its originality.

The scandal came as another blow for the games organizers after they had already been forced to abandon the original design plans for the new National Stadium for the Olympics due to fierce public criticism over skyrocketing construction costs.

Japan’s minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics said Wednesday the Games’ organizing committee, the Olympic logo selection committee and its designer were all responsible for the withdrawal of the logo.

“Each of the three parties was responsible in their own way,” Olympics minister Toshiaki Endo said.

The retraction of the logo could also prompt legal claims for damages from sponsors and others who have already ordered goods bearing the scrapped design.

“Legally speaking, we understand it presents the problem of damage compensation,” said the organizing committee’s chief operating officer, Yukihiko Nunomura, at a hearing of a Lower House committee.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has already ordered goods worth ¥46 million ($380,000). A senior official said it planned to review whether it was possible to seek payment from the organizers.

“It is very disappointing,” Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe told reporters, referring to “a second scandal following the retraction of the stadium design.”

“I want to make utmost efforts to put things on the right track,” he added. “The root of the problem is (the organizers) have not properly disclosed information. I hope the new logo will be produced under the supervision of the public.”

At the Diet hearing, Endo said he took the matter “seriously” and planned to “closely work with the organizing committee to prevent similar problems” in the future.

The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan said that while the organizing committee carried the heaviest responsibility, Endo must take his share of the blame as minister.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he respected the organizer’s decision to withdraw the logo.

The top government spokesman told a news conference that he hoped the organizing committee would accept the stadium and logo controversies “sincerely” and “respond thoroughly so that people can celebrate” the Olympics.

Sano, in asking for his logo to be pulled, denied it had been plagiarized but said he was concerned that the controversy was marring the Tokyo Olympics’ image and that his family has been subjected to harassment.

Sano has been accused of plagiarism by Belgian designer Olivier Debie, who has filed a lawsuit against the International Olympic Committee to prevent use of the logo.

The committee sought to rebut the allegation by showing what it claimed was Sano’s initial blueprint for the logo, but that design also came under suspicion over its resemblance to a 2013 poster by Yoshihisa Shirai for an exhibition on the work of late German typographer Jan Tschichold.

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