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Tokyo 2020 creative director resigns after bullying probe

Dentsu headquarters, Tokyo. Image credit: Dentsu

A high-profile creative director working with Japanese marketing group Dentsu on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has resigned after being found to have harassed colleagues.

Kaoru Sugano had a key role in the creation of the Tokyo 2020 opening and closing ceremonies. The 42-year-old had previously worked on the handover segment of the Rio 2016 closing ceremony, which had Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appear as Nintendo video game character Super Mario.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee confirmed it had received Sugano’s resignation earlier this week in a telephone call, and said in a statement that it  would have “no impact” on the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics or Paralympics.

Actor Mansai Nomura is the creative director for the Games and will oversee the ceremonies. He is thought to be planning to coordinate the events as a “four-part series” rather than as separate ceremonies, with animated characters and technology to be prominent themes.

Dentsu has been in the spotlight about its work environment. Three years ago, the firm’s president stepped down from from his role following a “death by overwork” incident. Last month, Dentsu received a warning from labour authorities about its overtime practices.

The company is working with Tokyo 2020 on multiple levels, including playing a lead role in generating the record-breaking local sponsorship revenues of over $3.1bn (€2.8bn).