Last Friday the logo was revealed for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was received with mixed reviews, with many of the opinion that the aesthetic thought that went into the logo wasn’t quite as deep as the message behind it.

As if there wasn’t already enough debate about the execution of the logo design itself, now there are rumors that the design could possibly be a plagiarization of the work of French designer Oliver Debie.

Kenjiro Sano, the designer of both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games logos, is a successful graphic designer whose work has appeared in a number of popular Japanese advertisements. Some of his most well-known work among residents of Japan include the au LISMO! emblem and ReBORN logo for Toyota’s commercials featuring Jean Reno as Doraemon.


Sano’s emblem, which he proudly posed with after its unveiling last Friday, was chosen from over 100 logo submissions.


Soon after his winning design was unveiled, controversy broke out about how the logo didn’t quite meet the aesthetic qualities Japan is known for, with references made to it resembling the Japanese flag or complaints that the red circle looked like an out-of-place pickled plum.

Despite some people’s initial disappointment, many were starting to get behind the design until recent news surfaced that the logo could have possibly been plagiarized from Debie’s design for Belgium’s Théâtre de Liège.

In this Facebook post made by Studio Debie, not only do the emblems look eerily similar, you can also see both logos utilize the same Clarendon font underneath.


Looking at his previous work above, there’s no doubt that Sano is a very talented graphic designer. Still, even if Sano didn’t take inspiration from Debie’s work, with the whole logo plagiarism debacle that came up between the Telluride Foundation and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, it might have been wiser for the designer to have done a little more research first.


So what do you think? Is this just a case of one designer borrowing just a little too much from another, or is this the result of what happens when two great minds think alike?

Source: Byokan Sunday
Top image: Facebook/Studio Debie
Feature images: RecruitSwim Swam, Facebook/Studio Debiebrandchannel