Tokyo 2020 officials irked by parody of logo depicting COVID-19

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

TOKYO -- Tokyo Olympics officials are incensed that their Games emblem has been used in the cover design of a local magazine that combined the logo with the coronavirus.

Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said Tuesday in an online news conference that organizers had requested the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan "take down" the image.

Takaya did not answer a question asking if Tokyo 2020 is planning a legal challenge. He suggested that negotiations were going on "in a private manner" with the Tokyo foreign journalists' club.

"It is very disappointing to see the Games emblem being distorted and associated with the novel coronavirus, which affects human life, people's lives, the economy and our society," Takaya said. "The design is clearly using the design of the Olympic emblem. We therefore consider it an infringement on our legally secured copyright to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem."

He said Tokyo 2020 had not yet received a formal reply to its request.

The "look-alike" emblem, which had "COVID-19" written underneath, was published on the cover of the April issue of the club's magazine. It also appeared in the online edition.

The FCCJ did not respond immediately to a request for comment from the Associated Press.

In an article about the logo published several days ago by The Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the artist was named as Andrew Pothecary. The article identified him as a British designer based in Japan who serves as the magazine's art director.

The artist said he viewed the design as a parody, though other designers interviewed by the newspaper suggested that parody was difficult with a topic such as the virus and pandemic.

"It is insensitive to many people being affected," Takaya said.