Pretty as a pictogram
The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games have revealed the official sport pictograms of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Created by a team led by Japanese designer Masaaki Hiromura over two years, the pictograms subtly communicate the characteristics and athleticism of each sport, as well as artistically highlight the dynamism of athletes.
They were designed in line with Tokyo 2020’s theme, “Innovation from Harmony”, while drawing inspiration from the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, when pictograms were first introduced at the Olympics. In doing so, the pictograms sidestep the recent trend of having a strong connection to the core visual identity of the Games.
The Tokyo 2020 program will feature 33 sports – including five new – and some sports will use more than one pictogram. In total, there are two sets of 50 designs – one unframed and the other framed. The “Free Type” unframed pictograms will be used on posters, tickets and licensed products, and the “Frame Type” pictograms will be used for more functional purposes on maps, signage at competition venues, guidebooks, and on websites.
The pictograms have been developed using mainly the blue of the Tokyo 2020 emblems, but five traditional Japanese colours (below) will be employed as sub-colours to create points of difference in certain applications. These include a deep red, a royal blue, a cherry blossom pink, a violet shade and a green.
Olympic Games sport pictogram systems were first introduced at the Tokyo 1964 Games, which arose from a need to communicate visually to an increasingly international group of athletes and spectators. Since then, pictograms have been created for every edition of the Games. You can view a comparison of both the 1964 and 2020 pictograms here.
“It is a real honour to have participated in the design of the Tokyo 2020 sport pictograms,” said Hiromura. “I have tried to express the dynamic beauty of the athletes through these pictograms, while respecting the legacy bequeathed by the pioneers of the Japanese design industry in their designs for the Tokyo 1964 Games.
“I hope that these pictograms will inspire everyone and help generate excitement for the different sports at Tokyo 2020, and that they will colourfully decorate the Tokyo 2020 Games.”