Olympic cauldron plagiarism row

Last updated 11:38 20/06/2013
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Thomas Heatherwick's London Olympics cauldron, which saw 204 copper "petals" rise to create one huge flame.
A petal design sketch from Atopia's London Olympics submission.

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Almost a year after it ended, the London Olympics has become mired in a cheating controversy.

Except this time the accusations don't involve the athletes who took part, but the Games' highly praised Opening Ceremony. 

A New York design studio claims artist Thomas Heatherwick stole their idea for the Olympic cauldron, the Guardian newspaper reports.

Heatherwick's design for the cauldron, which saw 204 copper "petals" rise to create one huge flame, was the "wow" moment of the ceremony.

Heatherwick, described by his peers as "the Leonardo da Vinci of our times", said at the time he had worked in secret on the cauldron, piecing it together in "the most sophisticated shed in Harrogate (Yorkshire) ... like the Bond gadget workshop".

However, designers working for Atopia claim they submitted a similar design to the Games' organising committee in 2007.

Jane Harrison, Atopia's co-director, told the Guardian newspaper: "We devised a structure of petals on tall stems, which would travel from all of the participating countries, then be brought into the stadium by children. The petals would be assembled during the opening ceremony to form a flower-like canopy, and distributed back to the different nations after the Games."

Harrison said that after submitting the design, Atopia didn't hear back from the organising committee. The studio has not been able to go public with its allegations until now because of a confidentiality agreement it signed when submitting its work to the Games.

Heatherwick's studio has denied plagiarising Atopia's idea. "We have never seen this project before, nor were we made aware of it," it said in a statement.

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