The Professional Association for Design has criticised Tokyo 2020's open competition to find a new logo ©Getty Images

An open competition launched by Tokyo 2020 to find a new logo has been criticised by The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) - who want organisers to scrap it.

The search is on to find a new emblem for the Olympics in the Japanese capital after the logo originally chosen had to be scrapped following a plagiarism row.

The competition to find the logo first time around was only open to designers in Japan who had won a specific design award, but the re-run was opened to all Japanese nationals over the age of 18.

As a result nearly 15,000 entries were received before the closing date on December 7, 12,900 from individuals and 1,699 group efforts.

That compared to only 104 entries which were accepted in the contest for the axed design.

The eventual winning designer will receive a prize of ¥1 million (£5,400/$8,200/€7,600) and will be invited to the Opening Ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics, but AIGA say they are against what they call "speculative work".

They object to the competition as they see it as work done for free, with only the hope of getting paid for it, and claim that a "remarkable" design can only be the result of a designer working directly with their client - something the contest renders impossible.

The organisation also argue that opening the competition to non-professionals "disrespects" the design profession and that the cash prize on offer to the winner is not enough for a logo which will be seen across the world millions of times.

Richard Grefé has written to Tokyo 2020 Olympics organising committee president Yoshiro Mori
Richard Grefé has written to Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshirō Mori ©Getty Images

"As the largest and oldest professional association of communication designers in the world, AIGA would like to urge you to reconsider this course," said Executive Director Richard Grefé in a letter to Yoshirō Mori, President of Tokyo 2020. 

"We understand the controversy that has already placed shadows on the identity for the Games.

"Yet, we believe that you are compromising one of the powerful messages others in the world perceive as emerging from Japan: a strong graphic and visual design tradition, innovative visual explorations, and respect for every profession.

"Competitions that ask designers to contribute their creativity and hours of work without remuneration in the hopes of their work being selected are against the global standards of professional practice for communication designers.

"In essence, a compromise of the ethics of the profession that protect the interests of designers, clients, and the potential for extraordinary outcomes. 

"Secondly, if the competition is open to the broader public rather than trained and experienced professionals, it demonstrates both disrespect for a universally respected Japanese profession and also suggests that the interests of the committee are served as easily by those with little experience as those with judgment and skill.

"As a third matter, while the committee takes advantage of thousands of hours of creative talent without compensation, which denies the value of creative enterprise, from those who submit designs, the selected design is compensated at a rate well below what is appropriate for a mark that will be reproduced literally millions of times, providing the Committee with the means of extraordinary levels of licensing income.

"It is very likely that the rewards to the designer for the mark that will provide global value to the Committee that is considerably less than the legal fees simply to restrict the designer’s reward.

"Is this fair and appropriate?"

Grefé also argued that the intellectual property for the new logo should remain with the designer.

Tokyo's original logo, by Japanese designer Kenjiro Sano, was axed because Belgian Olivier Debie claimed it resembled his Théâtre de Liège emblem.

A lawsuit against the International Olympic Committee by the Théâtre was dropped but Debie is believed to be proceeding with his own case after filing a lawsuit in a Belgian court in August.

The new design will be chosen by Tokyo's Emblems Committee, which features people from the worlds of sport, design and business and is headed by chairman Ryohei Miyata.

They are expected to make a decision in the Spring.

insidethegames has asked Tokyo 2020 for a response to AIGA's stance.

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