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Tokyo Olympics Logo Designer Sano Denies Plagiarism

translated by Brett Larner

Amid controversy surrounding the "strong similarity" of the official 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games logos to the logo of Belgium's Theatre de Liege, art director Kenjiro Sano, 43, the person responsible for the Tokyo design, held a press conference August 5th in Tokyo.  Sano strongly denied the theater's claims of plagiarism, calling them "totally groundless" and saying that his design was "something made starting from zero."  Sano said that he "had never seen" the theater's logo, adding, "As an art director I have never ripped anything off," and "This is the culmination of my career.  As something truly original, I wanted to share it with the rest of the world."

Sano was on a business trip to New York through August 4, learning of the current problems while on the trip.  "It was a shock," he said.  "It has been very hard to deal with before today."  He stressed that "the design concept [of the theater's logo] is completely different."  The theater's logo incorporates the letter L from Liege and the letter T from Theatre, while Sano's design is based a square divided into nine parts featuring elements like the letter T and a red circle, a composition he emphasized was his own.  "The background itself is completely different," he said.

Apart from the theater's logo, the similarity of Sano's design to that of a Spanish agency's logo used when soliciting for donations for the Great East Japan Earthquake, particularly in the use of the colors gold, black and red, has also been raised, but, said Sano, "That's ridiculous.  Those are the most Japanese of colors."

The Theatre de Liege side has indicated that it is considering legal action and has already send a letter to the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee.  The organizing committe has said that the theater's logo is not trademarked and that as such it sees no problem with continuing to use Sano's current logo.


That is an impressive design and it is one that can really stand the test of time. The white on black gives it a depth and a crispness. nice logo

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