Tokyo 2020: Pictograms


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Continuing with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics series, this time I’m taking a look at the Olympic pictograms, which play a key role in facilitating the experience of athletes and spectators during the Games.

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 sport pictograms were designed by a team led by renowned Japanese designer Masaaki Hiromura, and will be used in several places, including signage at competition venues, tickets, licensed products and guidebooks.

Tokyo 1964: The Origin of Pictograms

Olympic Games pictograms were first introduced at the Tokyo 1964 Games. The Japanese were faced with a language barrier and they needed a way to easily communicate information to visitors and athletes who have diverse language and cultural backgrounds.

Art directed by Masasa Katsumie and designed by Yoshiro Yamashita, the first system of simple and stylized Olympic pictograms included 20 pictograms for the different sports and 39 for general information (restrooms, village, press…).

And as you can see, they were a big inspiration for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo 2020: Bringing the Past to the Future

Inspired by the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 and Tokyo 2020’s theme, “Innovation from Harmony”, the team led by Masaaki Hiromura designed 50 pictograms for the 33 sports on the Tokyo 2020 program.

“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. 

Masaaki Hiromura

The pictogram system, which took almost two years, was designed to communicate the characteristics and athleticism of each sport, and to highlight the dynamism of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Pictograms
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Pictograms

Kinetic Pictograms: Beyond Static

For the first time in the history of the Games, a set of kinetic sports pictograms were created, emphasizing that Tokyo 2020 will be the most innovative Games ever.

“For the first time in the history of Olympic and Paralympic Games, we have taken on the challenge of animating the sports pictograms… I hope they will be passed on to future Games as a legacy for the future”

Kota Iguchi

Animated by Japanese motion designer Kota Iguchi, the dynamic pictograms are composed of a series of three movements: appear, static, and disappear. They will also be used during the broadcast of events, website and social media channels as well as featuring in digital signage.

As they did in 1964, the Tokyo 2020 design team aims to be an example for future Games and make kinetic pictograms a must for every Olympic Games’ design system. And I hope they do 🤞

Final Opinion

What can I say, this project is perfect! ❤ I love that they brought back the OG pictograms and gave them an innovative spin with perfectly smooth animations. If these pictograms are just a very small part of how innovative the Games are going to be, I can’t wait for the opening ceremony!

But well… at least that’s my F opinion

Tokyo 2020: Pictograms