A spiky issue
A parody logo depicting the emblem of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a “coronavirus” received backlash from the Games’ organising committee, who deemed it “insensitive” and an infringement of copyright laws.
The design was first published on the front cover of the April edition of Number 1 Shimbun, the in-house magazine of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ). It was created by the magazine’s art director, British designer Andrew Pothecary.
“It is very disappointing to see the emblem being distorted and deliberately associated with the coronavirus, which has caused enormous economic damage, social disruption and loss of human life,” said Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya in an online news conference.
“The design is also 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.
“This is also insensitive to the many people affected worldwide by this damaging and painful situation. It is especially insensitive to the athletes around the world working to compete in the Games.”
The FCCJ later acquiesced by taking down the image from its website, with the club’s President Khaldon Azhari citing its weak legal defence against copyright infringement. He added that the move would not limit the club’s freedom of expression, nor its ability to use parody or satire in the future. He also expressed “sincere regret to anyone who may have been offended on all sides of this issue.”
The COVID-19 outbreak has been responsible for over 345,000 deaths worldwide as of writing. The impact is such that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have become the first Games in history to be postponed. Over the years, the international event has weathered politically charged boycotts and terrorist attacks, and only been cancelled during the World Wars (in 1916, then in 1940 and 1944).