How the Web forced a redesign of the Tokyo Olympics logo

How the Web forced a redesign of the Tokyo Olympics logo

Today, the organising committee behind the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics announced its new logo: a circle that looks like a re-arranged chequered flag. Here it is, below. It’s pretty abstract, right? Inoffensive? A bit, well, meh?

This image released Monday, April 25, 2016 by The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games shows the new official logos of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, left, and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. Organizers unveiled the new official logo of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Monday, April 25, opting for blue and white simplicity over more colorful designs. The winning logo, selected from four finalists, is entitled Harmonized Checkered Emblem. It features three varieties of indigo blue rectangular shapes to represent different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. (The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games via AP)

That’s probably because the first attempt at a logo was lampooned by you, dear Web readers. In the summer of last year, one of Japan’s top graphic artists, Kenjiro Sano, proudly unveiled the below.

tokyo olympics original logo

It’s nice, isn’t it? Clean, simple, and makes use of Japanese iconography. The official press release boasted,

“The black colour of the central column represents diversity, the combination of all colours. The shape of the circle represents an inclusive world in which everyone accepts each other. The red of the circle represents the power of every beating heart.”

But within minutes, the word “pakuri” began circulating on Japanese social networks. That word translates to mean “plagiarism”, because of its striking similarity to this logo, from a Belgian theatre, created in 2013.


That lead to the designer of the theatre logo, Oliver Debie, to make this fancy gif to point out the copy.

Kenjiro Sano said that he’d never been to Belgium, or even seen the logo. The Japanese Olympic Committee stood by him, for a bit. That was until, Sano later admitted that his team copied graphic designs for a beer brand’s promotional campaign.

The International Olympic Committee then blocked Japan from using the design. Internet vigilantism: 1 Japan’s efforts to host an Olympic games: 0.

To sate the sense of injustice felt by fans of Belgian theatre, they held an open competition for anyone to submit alternatives. As we found with our logo redesign recently, people bloody love a logo contest.

The results poured in. Some were great.

Some were colorful. 

Some were of a, err… guy falling over?

Ideatery's entry
Credit: ideartery
Ideatery’s entry

There’s actually a whole site dedicated to submissions, which any discerning design fan should take a peak at. My favorite is Tom Watson‘s super simple vertical logo. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.52.55

The games received 14,599 entries, but they decided to go with the Harmonized Checkered Emblem by Asao Tokolo, a Japanese designer. Organizers said the checkered design in the traditional Japanese color of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.

I think they went with the safest logo possible, because no one likes to be trolled, even the Japanese Olympic Committee. 

This New Tokyo 2020 Olympics Logo Hopefully Isn't a Rip-Off on Gizmodo

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