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2011–2015, 2015–2016 July–September 2015 2016–2021
2011–2015, 2015–2016 July–September 2015 2016–2021

The 2020 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad) and the 2020 Summer Paralympics, both commonly referred to as Tokyo 2020, are two upcoming international multi-sport events that were originally scheduled to take place respectively from July 24 to August 9, 2020 and August 25 to September 6, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

On March 24, 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee announced that the Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed until 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.[1] This represents the first major disruption for the Olympic and Paralympic Games during peace-time. The games are now scheduled respectively to be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021 and August 24 to September 5, 2021.

Despite the rescheduling of the events, the event will retain its current branding in full and continue to be promoted as 'Tokyo 2020'.

2011–2015, 2015–2016

Tokyo2020 2011.svg
Designer:  Ai Shimamine
Typography:  DIN

The official Olympic bid logo for Tokyo 2020 was unveiled on November 30, 2011 after a nationwide competition for an applicable design. The logo was created by Joshibi University of Art and Design student Ai Shimamine.[2]

The emblem exhibits a wreath composed of cherry blossoms, a well-known floral symbol of Japan. It incorporates the blue, yellow, green and red of the Olympic Rings and purple, representing the Edo period (1603–1868). The circular shape represents diversity with each petal representing the importance and dependencies of the world's people with one another. According to an interview with Shimamine, the wreath was included as she saw that wreaths "carry a message of 'coming back again'." She saw the hosting of the Olympics as an opportunity to reinvigorate Japan through sport. The logo was accompanied by the bid motto Discover Tomorrow.

2011–2012 Applicant City

Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid applicant city logo.svg

As is standard with Olympic bid applicants, the Applicant City variant of the logo discludes the Olympic Rings.

2012–2013 Candidate City

Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid candidate city logo.svg

Tokyo was declared an official candidate for the 2020 Olympics on May 23, 2012. The Olympic Rings were added to the bottom of the logo along with the words 'Candidate City'.

2013–2015, 2015–2016 Interim

Tokyo 2020 interim.svg

Tokyo won the rights to host the games at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Moving from candidates to confirmed host, the words 'Candidate City' was removed. This logo remained as an interim logo until the unveiling of the official emblems.

This logo was briefly reinstated in September 2015 as the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) took down their first official emblems amid allegations of plagiarism.

July–September 2015


Tokyo 2020 1st Generation.svg
Tokyo 2020 1st Generation Paralympics.svg
Designer:  Kenjiro Sano
Typography:  Clarendon

The first iteration of the games' emblems for both the Olympics and Paralympics were presented via an event at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Citizen's Plaza at 7pm, July 24, 2015; 5 years to the day before the Olympic opening ceremony.[3][4] The emblems were designed by Kenjiro Sano; a graduate of the Department of Graphic Design at Tama Art University and winner of many graphic design awards such as the New York ADC Gold Award and the Cannes Lions Gold. His designs were chosen from 104 submissions from across Japan.

The Olympic emblem was an expression of the fundamental mission of the Olympic movement; to unite the world through sport. The 'T' shape of the emblem was inspired by the typefaces Didot and Bodoni whose highly serifed forms were seen by Sano as to have 'appealing strength and sensitivity'. It embodies the three themes of the emblem's design:

  • Tokyo - the host city of the event and the meeting point of the world's athletes.
  • Tomorrow - the ambition of the event to construct a better, more connected future for the world.
  • Team - the entire world unites as one team.

As black is the considered the combination of all colours, the central pillar represents tolerance and diversity regardless of race, nationality or religion. The circle symbolises an all-accepting planet and its red colour represents a beating heart. It alludes to the Japanese flag, and the geographic position of Japan on the world map; in the top right corner. The negative space of the two irregular triangles that form a circle represents an open, transparent world. The use of gold in the top left triangle pays homage to the previous games held in Tokyo in 1964.

The Paralympic emblem was similar to its Olympic counterpart, but has two black pillars positioned to the sides as opposed to one in the centre. The two pillars represent the equal sign '=', showing the Paralympics as an event which shares the same ideals as the Olympics and holds Paralympians to the same standards of the Olympic Games. It may also be interpreted as the Roman numeral for 2, which represents the second time Tokyo plays host to the Paralympics and in inclusion, the only city at the point of writing to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year twice.

Reactions to the logos were mixed; some praised its simplicity and clever symbolism while others had more critical views on the basis that it was bland and not fit for a sporting event. Many were mystified by the use of Clarendon as the main typeface. Some observers spotted that it resembled the logo of the J.League; the Japanese football league.

Plagiarism disputes

After the designs were unveiled, allegations arose that the emblem was plagiarising the logo for Théâtre de Liège, a Belgian performance arts studio.[5] Olivier Debie, creator of the theatre's logo claimed that the Tokyo 2020 emblem was too similar to his own work and was considering action against TOCOG. Even though the theatre's logo wasn't registered as a trademark, he still insists the emblem was a work of plagiarism as it's been available online for two years. The design also was accused of plagiarising from a poster conceived by Hey Studios in Barcelona, Spain created during the rebuilding of Japan after the 2011 tsunami. The studio stated they "...would be proud if it inspired an emblem for a major event, but it was probably a coincidence."

On August 5, 2015, Sano responded saying that he hadn't seen Debie's design, adding he hadn't and would never plagiarise.[6] On August 29, the Japanese Olympic Committee issued a statement saying they still saw the emblem as a piece of original work as "it has many characteristics that are not present in Liege's logo,". Officials also unveiled Sano’s initial blueprint, saying its emphasis on the “T” shape bore no resemblance to the theatre logo.

Revisions of the Olympic emblem

“Of course I didn't take [Debie's logo] as an example, there is absolutely nothing to that talk.”
Kenjiro Sano

Sano then came under fire for using photos from multiple online sources without permission. They were manipulated to showcase the use of the emblems on buildings and interiors during the event. The pictures he used were sourced from blogs and commercial websites, but he had not sought out official permission to use those assets prior to the project photos being made publicly available.

Breakdown of the image sources

Further concerns arose about the emblems after a number of plagiarism claims emerged on other designs created by Sano. His office requested beverage company Suntory pull several tote bag designs for a beer brand, stating that designers had traced those designs "from a third party". The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens began an investigation of their current logo from 2012 and designed by Sano after comments that it closely matched the logo of the National Museum of Costa Rica. American artist Josh Divine claimed that Sano's logo for a museum/library in Ota, Gunma Prefecture is similar to a design of his own.[7]


TOCOG continued to defend Sano's work, but became inundated with pressure to pull the design following the multiple plagiarism claims against Sano. Its retraction was also requested by Sano himself saying that he feels the controversy was beginning to damage the reputation of the Tokyo games and that his own reputation was under threat. They conceded that this emblem had become a PR disaster and came to the conclusion to retire it just over a month after it had been instated.

“We became aware of new things this weekend and there was a sense of crisis that we thought could not be ignored. (...) We have decided that the logo cannot gain public support.”
Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games

On September 2, 2015, the Sano-designed emblems were officially scrapped.[8] The official website and social media channels reverted to the interim emblem by Shimamine until a new emblem can be selected. On January 27, 2016, Debie stated that he will drop the suit against TOCOG, citing mounting legal costs.


2015 Redesign Contest

TOCOG established a committee in September 2015 to select new emblems for the Games, consisting of athletes, design experts and Japanese sports personnel.[9] Among the responsibilities of the committee are to consider the events leading the former emblem's withdrawal and make policies to judge future emblem designs.

Template found on website during the submission process

The new logo was decided by the committee as part of an open competition among Japanese citizens and residents to create the new logo. The submission period ran from November 24 to December 7, 2015. 14,599 submissions were received within the 2 week period; 12,900 of which came from individual designers and primary school students with participant ages ranging from 12 months to 107 years old.[10] Strict copyright checks were conducted on all designs by the committee and the IOC. The shortlist of four finalists was revealed at the Toranomon Hills Mori Tower on April 8, 2016.[11]


Logopedia InfoWhite.svg SVGs NEEDED


Tokyo 2020.svg
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.svg
Designer:  Asao Tokolo
Typography:  Custom
Based on DIN

On April 25, 2016, the redesign contest was won by Asao Tokolo for his "Harmonized chequered emblem design".[12] Tokolo is a Tokyo Zokei University graduate with several exhibitions in local museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and NTT InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.

Winner unveiling
April 25, 2016

“My mind has gone blank as I just found out my design won... I put a lot of time and effort into this design as though it was my own child”
Asao Tokolo[13], designer of the emblem, to Associated Press

The emblems both consist of 45 boxes of three varying ratios arranged into a wreath shape. 'Tokyo 2020' and 'Paralympic Games' are written in a custom, narrowed typeface. The emblems resemble Ai Shimamine's bid logo from 2011, through the circular mosaic form and DIN-based typeface.

The "ichimatsu moyou" (市松模様) is a common design among many cultures, as well as in Edo period Japan. Each of the boxes represents different nations, varying in culture, size and thoughts showcasing "unity in diversity". It unifies the nations using the Olympics as a platform to promote peace. The emblems are set in an indigo-like blue colour expressing the elegance and sophistication which Japan is renowned for.

See also

Notes and references

External links

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