Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo designer faces new plagiarism claims

Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo designer faces new plagiarism claims
Tokyo Olympic logo designer Kenjiro Sano explains his design during a press conference at the headquarters of Tokyo 2020 in Tokyo on August 5, 2015. Sano denied plagiarism claims after his emblem triggered threats of possible legal action in Europe.
PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO  - The designer of Tokyo's 2020 Olympics logo said Friday he has withdrawn some designs created for drinks giant Suntory in the wake of new plagiarism allegations.

The move comes just over a week after besieged designer Kenjiro Sano refuted claims that he stole the design for his Olympics emblem as "completely baseless." "There are online claims that there might be copyright problems... and our client Suntory and other relevant people have received questions" about it, Sano's office said in a statement.

"Given the situation, we asked that some designs be withdrawn." The company, one of Japan's biggest beverage firms, has said that it would stop shipment of certain bags that were part of a promotional campaign for non-alcoholic beer.

The bags with some of Sano's designs - including a French baguette and an opened book - have come under scrutiny.

Others that were not withdrawn include a slice of watermelon, an umbrella, a bird, and a pair of sunglasses.

"These designs are based on ideas and motifs in everyday life, but we have started looking into the claims with the help of experts," Sano's office said.

The retraction comes after a Belgian designer said last week he would take the International Olympic Committee to court over use of the logo for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which he claims was plagiarised from his work.

Olivier Debie and the Liege Theatre, for which he had designed the logo, said Friday through their lawyers that they had submitted an additional complaint to a civil court in the eastern Belgian city.

That litigation had also been sent to Lausanne to be included in the dossier against the IOC, a statement said.

The statement said Sano's explanations "were hardly serious," while the Tokyo Olympic organisers had not ceased use of the contested logo.

"The attitude of the IOC regretfully obliges us to take legal action," it said.

"We want to stress that our case does not seek a financial settlement but a halt to use of the logo by Tokyo 2020," it added.

The Liege case will receive a first hearing on September 22.

Sano earlier this month rejected the plagiarism allegation, saying he was "convinced this is a piece that has no parallel in the world." The IOC and the Tokyo Games organisers have also dismissed the claims, and said designer Debie did not have a trademark on the emblem he made for the Liege theatre.

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