Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee Holds Press Conference Regarding Olympic Logo Problem

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee held a press conference on Sept. 1 to discuss the problems surrounding the Tokyo Olympics logo designed by Kenjiro Sano.  CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters, "We only heard it from Mr. Sano this morning, but the pictures illustrating usage of the logo were created for internal usage by the review committee at the time the design was submitted.  When the design was announced as the official logo it was the rule that permission needed to be obtained from all relevant copyright holders, but this failed to happen.  The explanation given was that this was due to simple carelessness."

Withregard to the strong similarity between Sano's initial draft design for the logo and a poster for an exhibition held in Tokyo several years ago, Muto commented, "Mr. Sano said, 'I make my designs myself, not in imitation of others, and consider them to be original.  As a designer it is not possible to withdraw a design because people say it is an imitation, and for that my family and I have been subjected to constant slander day and night.  It was a dream of mine as a designer to contribute something to the Olympics, but my contribution has now been rejected by the general public.  Given the damage this has done to the image of the Olympics I now feel that I should withdraw my authorship.'"

Muto continued, "This situation has has caused a great deal of worry to all our citizens and in particular to the people of Tokyo, and we apologize sincerely to the government and all other involved parties.  We intend to move forward immediately in the selection of a new logo and to do this in a fundamentally public way.  We will make a decision as soon as possible and hope that the logo is one which is widely supported and loved by the people of Japan as a symbol of the Tokyo Games."

With regard to the reasons for the withdrawal of Sano's logo Muto commented, "We are confident that the claims of similarity to the Belgian logo are incorrect.  New information came to light on Saturday and by Sunday it was evident that the problem could not be ignored, leading to today's decision to withdraw the logo," indicating that the new issues including the unauthorized appropriation of photos used in Sano's Olympic logo usage images were considered the primary grounds for the decision.

Assigning responsibility for the problems equally to the organizing committee, Sano and the review committee, Muto said, "Beyond just assessing the current situation, it is the responsibility of the organizing committee to move forward with creating a new logo.  We understand Mr. Sano's stance that as a designer, 'there has been no plagiarism or imitation.'  We believe that making the decision to withdraw authorship of the logo indicates an acceptance of responsibility.  With regard to the review committee, having recommended Mr. Sano's design as the best among the entries, making the decision that withdrawing the logo was unavoidable is no doubt also a way of taking responsibility."

Regarding the question of whether Japan's international reputation has been damaged, Muto commented, "This logo was intended to be something that would endure, but it has been determined to no longer be suitable.  By creating a new logo we hope to restore that faith."

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