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Athletics Controversial Olympic image removed

A SATIRICAL drawing that combines the Tokyo Olympic logo with the Covid-19 virus was removed yesterday from the website of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Action to pull the drawing came after the Tokyo Olympic organising committee demanded its withdrawal and claimed copyright infringement.

FCCJ President Khaldon Azhari said the club’s lawyers agreed that the drawing had likely infringed Japan’s tight copyright laws.

He said the move would not limit the club’s freedom of expression, nor its ability in the future to use parody or satire. He also expressed “sincere regret to anyone who may have been offended on all sides of this issue.”

The look-alike emblem appeared on the cover of the club’s magazine published in April. It did not become an issue beyond a small circle in Japan until the Tokyo Olympic organising committee raised it 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 organisers to the FCCJ. It said: “To deliberately paint 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 that magazines would not be confiscated. Removing the drawing only applies to the website.

“In the media in Japan, many of my colleagues feel very much annoyed by the restrictions on parody, and on the the TV footage,” Azhari said. “There are so many restrictions here. I hope this incident will be a very good chance to open a good discussion about this issue in Japan.”


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