Tokyo 2020 organisers, headed by President Yoshirō Mori, will write a letter of reply to AIGA ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 organisers have defended the open competition they launched to find a new logo after it was strongly criticised by The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

The emblem which was initially selected for the Games in the Japanese capital was axed due to a plagiarism row, prompting an urgent search for a replacement ahead of the extravaganza in just under five years time. 

Only designers who had won a specific award were eligible to submit ideas first time around, but the second competition was opened up to all Japanese nationals over the age of 18.

This prompted Richard Grefé, AIGA's Executive Director, to write a letter to Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori asking him to scrap the contest.

His organisation claimed that a "remarkable" logo for the Olympics would only be possible as a result of a designer working directly with Games staff, something that cannot happen with the open competition.

It is also argued that allowing non-professionals to enter their logos "disrespects" professional designers and that the cash prize being offered to the winner of  ¥1 million (£5,400/$8,200/€7,600) is not enough for an emblem which will be used on multiple occasions all over the world.

Tokyo organisers, however, have hit back and said the competition allows the general public to "engage" with the Olympics and Paralympics, which will be returning to the city for the first time since 1964.

Nearly 15,000 entries were received in the open competition, compared to just 104 first time around.

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Tokyo 2020 axed its initial logo after a plagiarism row with Liege Theatre ©Tokyo 2020/Liege Theatre

They also argue that the Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee, which will pick the winning design, includes experts from the design world who can provide a professional view on the entries.

'We respect the fact that there is a wide diversity of views on this matter," a Tokyo 2020 statement said to insidethegames.

"Meanwhile, in order to reflect the lessons learned from the withdrawal of the previous Games emblems, Tokyo 2020 has taken the opportunity to engage the wider general public and implement an open design competition.

"To ensure the selection of Tokyo 2020 emblems that will be fully embraced by the people of Japan, we have established the Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee, which is composed of leading figures from a wide range of fields, including professional designers and artists.

"The closing date for the acceptance of entries was on 7 December, and we were delighted to receive close to 15,000 entries.

"We believe that by implementing this open design competition we have been able to actively engage a large number of people in the delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"During the selection process, the members of the selection committee will be assisted by 20 professional designers affiliated to the Japan Graphic Designers Association and other leading design-related professional bodies.

"We will continue to work towards the selection of Games emblems that will meet with the widespread approval of the Japanese public and will be well-received internationally.

"We are currently in the process of composing a reply to the letter received from the American Institute of Graphic Arts."

Tokyo organisers, who did not address AIGA's concerns on the cash prize, were forced to find a new logo when the initial design drawn up by Kenjiro Sano was said to closely resemble Belgian Olivier Debie's emblem for Liege Theatre.

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  Emblems Committee is expected to make a final decision in Spring.

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