When Darren Newman posted his concept logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Instagram his design went viral. Eventually designers from around the world entered the debate game for the conceptual idea of Newman which morphs the Olympic rings to read '2020' reports Creative Bloq.
For some the designer's creative take on the branding of Tokyo 2020 is “a masterclass in design”. For others the Tokyo 2020 logo that wasn't “is really terrible – it would look awful next to the actual Olympic rings logo (which it would appear alongside 99% of the time, so double-boring) and would never be authorised because the IOC is NUTS about protecting the rings branding.”
“There has been a lot of positive response to it which is great. There have also been a fair few negative responses, which I’m more than willing to accept – I’m just overwhelmed with the response to it” said Newman of the massive reaction which takes place on several Reddit forums.
Well, designers, this viral post and the reaction it followed is nothing compared to the very official Tokyo 2020 logo plagiarism drama which took place four years ago.
The initial design for the official emblems of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled on 24 July 2015.
The logo resembled a stylized 'T': a red circle in the top-right corner representing a beating heart, the flag of Japan, and an “inclusive world in which everyone accepts each other”; and a dark grey column in the centre representing diversity. The Paralympic emblem was an inverted version of the pattern made to resemble an equal sign.
Shortly after the unveiling, Belgian graphic designer Olivier Debie accused the organizing committee of plagiarizing a logo he had designed for the Théâtre de Liège, which aside from the circle, consisted of nearly identical shapes. Tokyo's organizing committee denied that the emblem design was plagiarized, arguing that the design had gone through “long, extensive and international” intellectual property examinations before it was cleared for use.
Debie filed a lawsuit against the IOC to prevent use of the infringing logo.
The emblem's designer, Kenjirō Sano, defended the design, stating that he had never seen the Liège logo, while TOCOG released an early sketch of the design that emphasized a stylized 'T' and did not resemble the Liège logo. However, Sano was found to have had a history of plagiarism, with others alleging his early design plagiarized work of Jan Tschichold, that he used a photo without permission in promotional materials for the emblem, along with other past cases.
On 1 September 2015, following an emergency meeting of TOCOG, Governor of Tokyo Yōichi Masuzoe announced that they had decided to scrap Sano's two logos. The committee met on 2 September 2015 to decide how to approach another new logo design.
Eventually, on 24 November 2015, an Emblems Selection Committee was established to organize an open call for design proposals, open to Japanese residents over the age of 18, with a deadline set for 7 December 2015. The winner would receive ¥1 million and tickets to the opening ceremonies of both the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
On 8 April 2016, a new shortlist of four pairs of designs for the Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled by the Emblems Selection Committee; the Committee's selection—with influence from a public poll—was presented to TOCOG on 25 April 2016 for final approval.
The new emblems for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled on 25 April 2016; designed by Asao Tokolo, who won a nationwide design contest, the emblem takes the form of a ring in an indigo-coloured checkerboard pattern. The design is meant to “express a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.”
Note to oneself: this logo drama of Olympic proportions is still going strong.