Pictograms for Tokyo 2020 Olympics show athletes in action

The symbols representing different sports have been created by Japanese graphic designer Masaaki Hiromura, and aim to communicate with an international audience.

Pictograms for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been unveiled, representing every sport in the competition.

Symbolic graphic images have been used to represent different sports since the summer Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

They were introduced to help communicate information about events at the games without the need for words, helping to transcend language barriers and be accessible to an international audience, says the organising committee of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020 (TOCOG).

A new set of pictograms has been designed for every Olympics since.

The designs for Tokyo 2020 have been created by a team led by Japanese graphic designer Masaaki Hiromura. His past work includes a range of signage and wayfinding systems for cultural venues such as the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo and the Yokosuka Museum of Art in Yokosuka, Japan.

Fifty symbols have been unveiled for the 33 sports that will be part of the games in Tokyo 2020. Some sports have multiple disciplines, which have each been given their own pictogram, such as equestrian dressage, equestrian eventing and equestrian jumping, which are all variations of horse riding or equestrian sports.

Each pictogram also looks to capture the movement and “dynamic beauty” of athletes taking part in sports, Hiromura says, by showing figures in the middle of various actions. Examples include a character pulling back a bow to represent archery and a character jumping up towards a basket while holding a ball, to represent basketball.

Characters are made up of geometric shapes to represent different body parts, with unconnected shapes used for the figures’ legs, arms and heads. Some also show characters using sports equipment such as golf clubs or hockey sticks.

The designs aim to “communicate the characteristics and athleticism of each sport”, according to TOCOG.

They have been inspired by the pictograms used during the 1964 Olympics, according to Hiromura, which were created by artistic director Masasa Katzumie and graphic designer Yoshiro Yamashita, and also used stylised figures in action.

The pictograms’ core colour is indigo blue, which is the same as that used for the Tokyo 2020 logo designed by Japanese artist Asao Tokolo, which was unveiled in 2016 following a public competition.

Each pictogram appears in two main variations of blue and white, set against white and blue backgrounds respectively.

The colour palette for the pictograms also includes five “traditional Japanese” colours, according to the committee; dark red (kurenai), blue (ai), pale pink (sakura), purple (fuji) and green (matsuba), which will be used for variations of the pictograms during the games.

The pictograms without frames will be used mainly on posters, event tickets and merchandise, while those with frames will appear on maps, signage at venues, guidebooks and on the Tokyo 2020 website.

They will also appear as decorations around the Olympic athletes’ village site in Tokyo, but it has not yet been revealed in what form these will be displayed.

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  • Valerie Fletcher March 24, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Beautiful pictograms but where are the Paralympic pictograms?

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