Tokyo 2020 organizers on Friday launched their search for a new Olympic logo with a call for the public to reclaim the games after the original design was scrapped last month following accusations of plagiarism.
The Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee is inviting all residents of Japan over the age of 18, including foreign nationals, to submit designs for a new logo regardless of experience.
“Foreign people living in Japan have a different viewpoint of Japanese culture and Japan’s merits to Japanese people,” Tokyo 2020 Chief Operating Officer Yukihiko Nunomura told The Japan Times in an exclusive interview Friday. “So we thought it would be a good idea to have a more diverse input into what the new logo should be.”
Organizers had their fingers burned in July when a Belgian designer alleged that the 2020 emblem — designed by Kenjiro Sano and launched earlier that month — bore similarities to a theater logo of his own creation.
Sano’s entry was chosen from a competition open only to designers who had won at least two of seven designated awards. His logo was eventually dropped last month when further allegations of plagiarism in his work emerged.
“The biggest lesson we learned from last time was that we need to open it up to as many people as possible,” said Nunomura, who is also a member of the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board.
“Last time, we placed too much importance on design expertise and qualifications. The judges were also designers.
“So it was not open to enough people and we need to do that for people to get behind the logo. We want more people to be involved and that is the biggest point.”
Children and overseas residents can also enter as part of a group of up to 10 people, as long as the group representative is over 18 years old and lives in Japan.
Online applications can be submitted between Nov. 24 and Dec. 7, with the 19-member committee, headed by Tokyo University of the Arts President Ryohei Miyata and drawn from a variety of backgrounds, announcing the winner next spring.
The committee will then forward the logo to the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board for final approval, with the winning designer receiving an invite to the opening ceremony of both the Olympics and Paralympics.
The design brief suggests various keywords, including “the power of sport,” “inclusivity,” and “achieving a personal best.”
The selection criteria are outlined on the official Tokyo 2020 website.
“We want people to take on board the vision and keywords of the event and then add their own thoughts,” said Nunomura.
Organizers are also taking steps to avoid a repeat of the plagiarism furor that erupted around the original design.
“I want people to start from their own original ideas and thoughts. That’s the basis of originality,” said Nunomura.
“The IOC also has rules regarding the design, so it has to be within those guidelines. We want to see the originality of each person’s ideas.
“The judges will include IT experts and trademark experts, so if there is a copyright issue then the judging panel will find it.”
Organizers are hoping that the competition will revive public interest in the games, which have suffered a series of setbacks including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision in July to scrap the design for the new National Stadium.
“With the design for the new National Stadium being scrapped and then the logo being withdrawn after that, it’s true that it has dampened people’s expectations and excitement for the 2020 Olympics,” said Nunomura.
“We have reflected on that and this time we want people to be with us in designing the new logo. Through this, we want people to get back the idea that this is their Olympics.”