TOKYO – A design that uses the Tokyo Olympic logo and combines it with the features of the COVID-19 virus was removed from the website of the Japan Foreign Correspondents Club on Thursday.
The action to withdraw the design came after the Tokyo Organizing Committee requested the withdrawal and claimed copyright infringement.
Club president Khaldon Azhari said lawyers for the club agreed that the design had likely violated strict Japanese copyright laws.
He said the move would not limit the club’s freedom or expression, or its ability in the future to use parody or satire. He also expressed “sincere regret to anyone who might have been offended on all sides of this matter”.
“Over the 75 years of the FCCJ’s history, it has always been a beacon for press freedom in Japan and continues to defend these values,” said Azhari at an online press conference. “And for the right of journalists to hold the authorities to account. There is no doubt about it.”
The resembling emblem appeared on the cover of the club’s magazine published in April. It didn’t become a problem beyond a small circle in Japan until the Tokyo Organizing Committee raised the issue earlier this week.
Since then, it has been covered online and elsewhere, with the logo appearing frequently in searches.
Azhari read a letter from the Tokyo Olympic organizers to the FCCJ. He said: “Deliberately painting this emblem in a negative light by associating it with the COVID-19 virus … is in direct opposition to the ideals of the Olympic movement.”
Azhari said the magazines would not be confiscated. The removal of the design only applies to the website.
“In the media in Japan, many of my colleagues feel very annoyed by the restrictions on parody and on television images,” said Azhari. “There are so many restrictions here. I hope this incident will be a very good opportunity to start a good discussion on this issue in Japan.”
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