Plagiarism or coincidence?

Good morning everyone,

Did you survive the heat yesterday? I did, but barely! If you did, I've got some bad news for isn't going to be any cooler today...or tomorrow...or the next day...or the next day...or the...well, you get the picture. It's gonna' be hot, so keep hydrated.

Is it just me? Or has this Olympics been one big fiasco after another? The latest one stemming from the logo...

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.


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.

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.


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.

Looking at his previous work above, there’s no doubt that Sano is a very talented graphic designer. But looking at the designs, it's hard to imagine it's a coincidence.

Oh...and if that wasn't bad enough, look at this logo by a Spanish design group that was deigned to support Japan after the 2011 disasters.

olympic rebuild 

Now, let's look at all three together...

olympic logo fiasco

Ahh...I'm sorry, but even a blind man could see the similarities here and anyone who claims otherwise has their head stuck in the ground.

Look at it this way. If this were a design for the Beijing Olympics and the logos on the left were from a Japanese design company, what would your reaction be?

Have a great day!