The Tokyo 2020 emblem (left) was at the centre of plagiarism allegations involving the emblem of Liege Theatre ©Tokyo 2020/Liege Theatre

Tokyo 2020's Executive Committee has taken the decision to scrap the Olympic and Paralympic emblem designed by Kenjiro Sano and conduct a Japan-wide competition for a new design in the wake of plagiarism allegations.

Yoshirō Mori, the Tokyo 2020 President, informed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of the decision today.

It comes just days after Kazumasa Nagai, a representative of the Selection Committee for the Tokyo 2020 emblem, had given his backing to the design, claiming the draft emblem was modified to avoid it resembling trademarked designs.

Last month, emblem designer Sano issued an apology after admitting his staff stole designs from a promotional campaign for Japanese beverage firm Suntory.

Belgian designer Olivier Debie had filed a lawsuit against the IOC over the use of the Tokyo 2020 logo, claiming it amounts to copyright infringement due to its resemblance to a logo he designed for Liege Theatre.

"The Executive Committee has taken the decision to scrap the design by Mr Sano and to start afresh and conduct a Japan-wide competition for a new design," said John Coates, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020.

"There is no question about the originality of Mr Sano’s emblem, the design that he did.

"But such was the criticism and the weight of it in Japan that I can well understand the decision that the Tokyo Organising Committee has taken and we look forward to the outcome of the new design competition."

Yoshirō Mori, the Tokyo 2020 President, informed the IOC of the decision today
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori informed the IOC of the decision to scrap the Olympic and Paralympic Games logo today ©Getty Images

In response to criticism of the logo, the Selection Committee released draft versions of the emblem and outlined the process through which it was chosen by the eight-member panel.

Sano’s design was one of three shortlisted from 104 submissions at a meeting in November of last year.

Having been chosen on the back of further discussions, it is claimed the design underwent worldwide trademark checks during which it became apparent to the Selection Committee that it could be criticised for similarities to logos created by others.

Following a request to modify his work, Sano is said to have revised his design twice before settling on the current emblem. 

The Selection Committee said it had confirmed that the Liege Theatre logo was not registered as a trademark.

"We're certain the two logos are different," Toshio Muto, director general of Tokyo 2020, told a news conference.

"But we became aware of new things this weekend and there was a sense of crisis that we thought could not be ignored.

"We have reached a conclusion that it would be only appropriate for us to drop the logo and develop a new emblem.

"At this point, we have decided that the logo cannot gain public support."

Debie, who along with the theatre had filed a lawsuit seeking a court order for €50,000 (£36,000/$56,000) to be paid by the IOC and other organisations each time the emblem was used, expressed his surprise at the organisers' decision given their recent show of support. 

The controversy surrounding the logo follows the scrapping of the original plan for a new National Stadium; the main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Games. 

This came in the face of public criticism after its costs rose to ¥252 billion (£1.4 billion/$2.1 billion/€1.9 billion), nearly doubling original estimates.

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