The logo published on the FFCJ's magazine, Number 1 Shimbun ©FFCJ

A satirical logo depicting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic emblem as the coronavirus has been removed by the group which published it after organisers of the Games called it "insensitive" and claimed it breached copyright laws.

The design, published by the in-house magazine of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FFCJ), showed the Tokyo 2020 logo with a twist – morphing it with the spiky image of the COVID-19 virus.

It appeared on the front cover of the April edition of Number 1 Shimbun, sparking controversy.

The design was created by Andrew Pothecary, a British designer who is the magazine's art director.

Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya previously said to insidethegames: "The emblem symbolises the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

"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. 

"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. 

"Such conduct is not in keeping with the FCCJ's high standards." 

The original logos, created by Asao Tokolo for the Tokyo 2020 Games ©Getty Images
The original logos, created by Asao Tokolo for the Tokyo 2020 Games ©Getty Images

There have been more than 5.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in the deaths of more than 330,000 people to date.

FFCJ President Khaldon Azhari said today that the club had decided to withdraw the image after advice that its legal defence against a copyright infringement "was not strong".

Azhari said: "More importantly, we are all in this coronavirus crisis together and clearly the cover offended some people in our host country Japan."

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto was pleased with the move. 

"We believe their response was appropriate and this is what we were hoping for as an outcome," he said.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics has become the first in Games in history to be postponed because of COVID-19.

The Games are now scheduled to start on July 23, 2021.

Parts of Japan are still in a state of emergency due to the virus, including the capital, despite areas such as Osaka and Kyoto being ready to lift their restrictions.