The designer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games logo has issued an apology after admitting his staff stole designs from a promotional campaign for Japanese beverage firm Suntory.
Kenjiro Sano, who faces plagiarism allegations over the design, said he failed to properly supervise his staff and conceded that they had "copied" the ideas of others in creating tote bags for Suntory’s non-alcoholic beer campaign.
The campaign involved giving away 30 types of tote bags, designed by Sano’s studio, to customers, but it was noted by people online that the selection included a number of designs that have been used elsewhere.
Suntory has said it would stop shipment of eight types of tote bags having received a request from Sano.
"Following our in-house investigation, it was found that we traced designs created by a third party for part of our designs," Sano said in a statement posted on his studio’s website.
"I feel very sorry for causing great trouble to the people concerned.
"A designer should never be allowed to trace a design believed to be created by a third person and use it without any modification."
Sano’s apology comes after Belgian designer Olivier Debie took the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to court over the use of the Tokyo 2020 logo.
Debie claims the logo amounts to copyright infringement as it resembles a logo he designed for Liege Theatre, however, Sano insists the argument is "completely baseless".
A letter is said to have been sent by Debie to the IOC and the Japanese Olympic Committee on July 31 seeking to bring a halt to the use of the emblem and giving them eight days to respond.
The IOC declined to change the emblem’s design according to lawyers, which has led to a lawsuit being filed by Debie and the theatre, seeking a court order for €50,000 (£36,000/$55,000) be paid by the IOC and other organisations each time the emblem is used.
Tokyo 2020 has also dismissed the claims and insists it will stand by the emblem.
"Our standpoint that there is no problem concerning the emblem at all has not changed," said a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson.
July 2015: Tokyo 2020 unveil Olympic and Paralympic Games emblems