National

Online community offers up Olympic logo ideas

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

As the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee decided to scrap the official emblem design for the 2020 Games and launch a new competition to find another design, Japan’s online community has been actively discussing what might be suitable alternatives.

Many, including some politicians, have turned to the logo used for the initial bid, claiming it would be perfectly suitable to use as the official emblem.

The graphic, featuring a circle made up of cherry blossoms — the symbol of Japan — in five different colors, was designed in 2011 by Ai Shimamine, who was a student at Joshibi University of Art and Design at the time.

Others have suggested reusing the official 1964 Tokyo Olympics emblem, which was a simple design featuring a rising sun over five interlocking Olympic rings and designed by the late graphic designer Yusaku Kamekura.

But such diversions are prohibited by the International Olympic Committee, which aims to make the event profitable.

According to IOC rules, the official Olympic emblem for each games must be produced by the Olympic organizing committee from scratch and thus bidding logos cannot be recycled, said Yasuhiko Tanabe, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

In addition, the official emblem for the sports extravaganza must be kept secret until an official unveiling ceremony, meaning neither the 1964 Olympic emblem nor the bidding logo can be recycled as official emblems for the 2020 Games.

In July, Tokyo held a pomp-filled ceremony attended by big names like IOC Vice President John Coates, Tokyo organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori and Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe to unveil the 2020 Games logo.

The emblem, designed by Kenjiro Sano, was scrapped this week amid a growing furor over claims it, and other designs by Sano, were plagiarized.

The right to use the official Olympics emblem publicly is offered exclusively to sponsoring companies who have signed a partnership contract with the organizers.

Using the bidding campaign logo, therefore, is unrealistic as “it has already been used everywhere for free to heighten the domestic momentum (toward bidding for the Olympics),” Tanabe said.

Meanwhile, some social media users have suggested a “Plan B” by actually presenting their design ideas online, while others put up parody logos ridiculing the scandal.

A Spanish-based Japanese graphic designer @vivakankan posted on her Twitter account on Aug. 17 her own idea of a logo featuring a Japanese folding fan to represent good luck and cheering spirit.

Her design, which she said is meant to express people’s support for Japan, was shared by over 25,000 Twitter users and also attracted a number of positive comments.

Another Twitter user, @kohjohcho, ridiculed Sano’s logo by introducing a human-shaped graphic consisting of a series of simple geometric shapes comprising Sano’s T-shaped design.

The graphic of a person running away had the text “TETTAI (withdrawal) 2015” underneath instead of “TOKYO 2020.” He also created a sample image using the logo and a photo he took in Shibuya to demonstrate how it would appear in a public space.

After Olivier Debie, the Belgian designer who complained that the official Tokyo 2020 logo resembled one he had designed for a theater in Liege, the Internet community raised several doubts over some of Sano’s previous works, attacking him for possible plagiarism and eventually leading the discredited designer to retract his emblem.

Although details of the second contest were not clear as of Friday, Toshiro Muto, director-general of the organizing committee, said Tuesday it will inevitably include more public input in future decision-making processes.

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