By Mark Rivett-Carnac
September 2, 2015

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic logo was meant to represent unity. Instead, it was officially withdrawn on Tuesday after allegations of plagiarism against the designer, Kenjiro Sano.

Sano maintains his design came from original work and that he only pulled the logo because it did not have public support, the Japan Times reports.

It has also been alleged that Sano used work from other artists without permission during his Olympic logo presentations.

“I swear my design did not involve copies or plagiarism,” Sano, 43, said in a statement published on his website, in a translation provided by the newspaper. “Any attempt of suspected copying or plagiarism should never be permitted.”

“I made the decision (to retract the logo) after judging that it is difficult to let this situation continue, to protect my family and staff from persistent attacks and bashing over the ruckus,” Sano said . “I feel the situation has become unbearable as a human being.”

He also said the privacy of his family was infringed after their pictures appeared online.

The retracted logo, which features a bold letter ‘T’ and a red circle, bares striking similarity to graphic designer Olivier Debie’s emblem for the Théâtre de Liège in Belgium.

Since pulling the artwork, Sano has apologized to some parties, but not for his work on the logo. He will not receive the ¥1 million ($8,320) prize for winning the design competition, the Times says.

[The Japan Times]

Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at


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