Tokyo 2020 has revealed that details of the public design competition for the official mascots of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be released in mid-May.
A Commission established to pick the Tokyo 2020 mascots, chaired by Japan's Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Ryohei Miyata, met for the first time in January with the 15-member panel focused on engaging the public in the process.
It was tasked with drawing up eligibility criteria for entering the mascots competition, as well as the detailed schedule of the selection process.
Also in its remit was the job of coming up with ways in which to choose from the entries before deciding on the identity of the mascots.
Officials told Kyodo News today that the panel has met for the eighth and last time, and has held 17 hours of deliberation.
"We went over the criteria for the competition and the selection process for the last time," Yoshiko Ikoma, the panel's vice-chairwoman, said.
"We are waiting for final word [from the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee], but the feedback so far has been generally positive.
"We want a wide range of people to take part in the competition, from experienced professionals to those among the general public with future potential."
Tokyo 2020 revealed last month that the names of the official mascots for the Olympic and Paralympics will come from creative professionals, rather than from the general public.
Officials told Kyodo News that the Organising Committee will open the process to those with "knowledge and experience" not just of creative writing, but also of dealing with trademarks.
This will follow the selection of the mascot designs, which will be determined through a public competition open to Japanese citizens and non-Japanese people residing in Japan of all ages.
Each design must be drafted from six different angles and feature various expressions and poses.
A narrative for the mascots must also be included.
Feedback from children will be taken into account once the three or four finalists have been determined.
"Japan is a massive nation of mascots and characters," Ikoma told Kyodo News.
"I like to think this will be the start of something entirely new for mascots."
Organisers established the Commission in December as they aimed to avoid the controversy surrounding their logo in 2015.
The initial design by Kenjiro Sano had to be scrapped due to allegations of plagiarism, after Belgian Olivier Debie claimed that it resembled his Théâtre de Liège logo too closely.
The process of choosing a replacement was also criticised.
Nearly 15,000 entries were received in an open contest to pick the new emblem, with the Commission again being led by Miyata.
This was in contrast to the first time round when only those who had won a specific design award were allowed to take part.
Allowing the public to get involved was seen as a way of spreading the Olympics across Japan, but others argued that this impacted negatively on the quality of the eventually selected designs.
In December 2015, the American Institute of Graphic Arts urged Tokyo 2020 to scrap the open contest and said that a "remarkable" design could only be the result of a professional designer working directly with their client.
The eventual winner, designed by Asao Tokolo, a graduate of Tokyo Zokei University with a degree in architecture, received a mixed response when it was unveiled in April 2016.
Tokyo 2020 announced in February that the mascots will be unveiled in summer 2018.