Tokyo Olympic committee to stop using scandal-hit logo: media

AFP , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015

Tokyo 2020 Olympic
Koji Murofushi (R), Olympic gold medal-winning hammer thrower and Tokyo 2020 Sports Director, poses for pictures in front of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games emblems after an unveiling event at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2015 (Reuters)

Tokyo's 2020 Olympics organisers will scrap the event's logo after it drew plagiarism claims, reports said Tuesday, in the latest mishap after a costs furore forced plans for a new national stadium to be torn up.

The decision, reported by public broadcaster NHK and other local press outlets, caps off an embarrassing month for Olympic officials as the ditching of the $2.0 billion stadium meant the showpiece venue may only be ready a few months before the global event.

The Olympic committee declined to comment on the logo reports, but said it would hold a press briefing Tuesday evening.

Japanese media, without citing sources, said the committee would hold an emergency meeting before officially announcing that they would scrap the emblem due to the brewing controversy.

The final nail in the coffin may have been that designer Kenjiro Sano swiped images posted on the Internet to highlight locations in Tokyo where his logo could be displayed, media reported.

In recent days, Olympic sponsors including carrier Japan Airlines have started using the logo in their advertising campaigns.

The Games have been overshadowed by controversy in the wake of the scrapped stadium and logo scandal, in what has become a major embarrassment for Japan.

When Tokyo was chosen two years ago to host the Games -- a half century after the 1964 Olympics in the Japanese capital -- it was widely expected that the city was a safe choice with little chance of widespread delays or funding problems.

The emblem has been swept up in controversy since its unveiling in July after Belgian designer Olivier Debie claimed it copied work he had done for a theatre company.

Debie has taken the International Olympic Committee to court to block it from using the logo.

- 'An original' -

The IOC has rejected the claims and Japanese officials again on Friday said Sano's work was original and they had no plans to change it.

"We are confident that the Games' logo design is original," Toshiro Muto, director general of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, said last week.

An online petition with more than 22,000 signatures has called on officials to choose another image.

Tokyo's logo is based around the letter "T" -- for Tokyo, tomorrow and team with a red circle representing a beating heart.

The theatre's emblem features a similar shape in white against a black background.

But Sano's design has "many elements" not seen in the Belgian emblem, Muto said, adding that the committee twice asked him to tweak his original work to avoid any possible trademark violations.

Sano rejected the accusations of plagiarism as "baseless" last month, telling reporters: "I've never been to Belgium, and I've never (previously) seen the logo" designed by Debie.

But he has admitted that his team copied designs found on bags used in a promotional beer campaign for Japanese drinks giant Suntory.

The controversy comes as Japanese Olympic officials are still smarting over a national stadium fiasco after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered plans to be torn up in the face of growing anger over its price tag.

It was on track to become the most expensive sports stadium in history.

Last week, Japan said it would slash the cost of the showpiece venue by more than 40 percent, setting a cap of 155 billion yen ($1.28 billion) on construction costs.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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