Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo abandoned over plagiarism accusations

Dec 19 2017, 5:09 pm

Tokyo’s new logo for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games has been ditched following allegations that the design was plagiarized.

Belgian designer Oliver Debie has accused Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano of copying his 2013 logo design, which marked the expansion of Théâtre de Liège in Liege, Belgium.

Image: Tokyo202/Theatre de Liege

Image: Tokyo202/Theatre de Liege

The Tokyo Organizing Committee initially defended Sano, but it later decided to scrap the design after Sano admitted he copied works for some of his other projects, NHK World reports.

The Olympic host city’s logo was only unveiled in August and its removal comes as a highly unusual move in Olympic history. Another controversy also emerged last month when social media comparisons emerged over the similarities between Beijing’s bid theme song for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen animated film.


Tokyo Games’ organizers will now initiate another process to select a new logo design as soon as possible. They have also vowed to invite the public to participate in the selection process, but there is no timeline.

Debie has stated that he will sue the International Olympic Committee for copyright infringement.

This is the latest controversy for Tokyo 2020 after the local government announced this summer that the city’s new 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium will not be completed in time to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It will also fail to meet the International Olympic Committee’s January 2020 completion deadline in order to host athletics test events.

The original stadium design by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid was the centrepiece of Tokyo’s bid to host the Games. However, it was abandoned amidst criticism of the aesthetics and spiralling construction costs. The updated construction cost for Hadid’s design was last pegged at CAD$1.7 billion.

A new design for the stadium is anticipated to be ready by early-2016.

Tokyo 2020’s abandoned Zaha Hadid stadium design

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