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Sport Symbol

Deciphering Sport Symbol: What Olympic Pictograms Represent

Where can you find a sport symbol or a bundle of sports icons? Sport competitive events, of course. The Olympic Games is one of the most awaited world-class sports games, with over two hundred countries participating. Held every four years, every country is willing to be the home for this international multi-sport event. 

The Olympic Games is not perfect without its most anticipated pictograms. This is what this article is going to talk about, along with the different background stories for each four-yearly Olympic pictogram. 

Sport Symbol – the Olympic Pictograms

Sport Symbol
Source : Icon Utopia

The Olympic pictograms are the visual graphics for each sport symbol, characterizing each sport in this four-yearly competitive game. 

As numerous nations participate in this international event, communication and language barriers are the two most unavoidable problems. As a result, the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo introduced the use of different intentional figures called pictograms—ever since each Olympics host city has created and used them.  

Pictograms convey the universal characteristics of each sport that different native tongues can understand. The Olympics host city usually uses them for promotions as well. As a significant means of communication, you can find pictograms everywhere on programs, venue maps, or even building walls. 

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Interpreting Some of Olympic Pictograms

Sport Symbol
Source : Olympics

The competitive sports in the Olympic Games do not go through drastic changes, but the pictograms representing them do. It is because the pictograms usually reflect the culture of each host city.  

However, each host city and the pictogram designer have tried to infuse specific elements to each Olympic sport symbol. They usually include the characteristics that reflect the country or the city’s culture where the event is taking place.

Let’s see some examples of the Olympic pictograms and their hidden characteristics.

  • Mexico City 1968 – Mexico City, Mexico

The designers used only part of athletes’ bodies or equipment in the pictograms. The design refers to the pre-Hispanic glyphs in Mexican culture and history. For example, the use of water for aquatic sports and sailing took inspiration from the art of Huichol Indians. 

  • Sydney 2000 – Sydney, Australia

Sounders Design used boomerangs to create the silhouettes of pictogram legs and arms. Boomerang is a traditional hunting tool, especially to pay homage to the Australian-Aboriginal culture. 

  • Athens 2004 – Athens, Greece

Each sport symbol of the Athens Olympics took inspiration from the Ancient Greek’s black-figure vases of Cycladic figurines. The designers also used the irregular shape of pictogram frames based on the ancient vases. 

  • Beijing 2008 – Beijing, China

As designers, the official committee invited two chosen institutions – China Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University. As a result, the Olympic pictograms showed the ancient Chinese calligraphy, The Beauty of Seal Characters, as the basic structure. 

They also took inspiration from the ancient inscriptions on bones and bronze, along with the Chinese art of rubbing displayed in the color contrasts. 

  • Rio 2016 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Rio 2016 Olympic pictograms designer was the Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Game. Each sport symbol had an official layout that showed the athletes’ silhouettes and the delicate curves of the Brazilian carioca landscape. 

Each sport symbol of the Olympics, or the pictogram, indeed has a distinct yet meaningful element to represent the host cities. If you need the inspiration to design your own sports logo or symbol, don’t be hesitant to browse unlimited free and premium collections on the web.

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