Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo designer apologises in new plagiarism row

Kenjiro Sano, designer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games logos during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan on Aug 5, 2015.
Kenjiro Sano, designer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games logos during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan on Aug 5, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - The designer of Tokyo's 2020 Olympics logo has apologised after admitting that his team traced the designs used for a Suntory promotion campaign, as he faced plagiarism allegations over the Games design.

Besieged designer Kenjiro Sano made the apology on Friday after withdrawing some designs created for the drinks giant following claims that there might be copyright problems.

"Following our in-house investigation, it was found that we traced designs created by a third party for part of our designs," Sano said in a statement posted on his design office's website.

"I feel very sorry for causing great trouble to the people concerned," Sano said, adding that he had taken the consequences seriously.

Suntory, one of Japan's biggest beverage firms, has said that it would stop shipment of certain bags bearing the designs that were part of a promotional campaign for non-alcoholic beer.

Sano's apology came after Belgian designer Olivier Debie took the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to court over use of the logo for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which he claims was plagiarised from his work.

Sano has refuted the claims as "completely baseless."

The IOC and the Tokyo Games organisers have also dismissed the claims, and said Debie did not have a trademark on the emblem, which he designed for the Liege Theatre.