Tokyo 2020 unveils Olympic Games pictograms that nod to 1964 originals

Tokyo 2020 has unveiled a set of 50 retro-style sport pictograms that pay homage to the icons introduced at the first Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

Created by Japanese graphic designer Masaaki Hiromura over the course of two years, the pictograms represent all 33 sports that will feature in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games programme, with some sports using more than one pictogram.

Tokyo Olympics pictogram
The football pictogram is one of 50 designs featuring Olympic sports

There are two sets of 50 designs in total – 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, in guidebooks, and on websites.

Tokyo Olympics pictogram
The fencing pictogram will be used on posters and tickets for the sport at the Games

The pictograms have been developed mainly using the blue of the Tokyo 2020 emblems as well as five other colours in some modes of use that will be employed as sub-colours to create points of difference. These include: a deep red, a royal blue, a cherry blossom pink, a violet shade and a green.

Olympic Games sport pictograms were first introduced at the Tokyo 1964 Games when organisers recognised the need to communicate to an increasingly international group of athletes and spectators.

Tokyo Olympics pictogram
The diving pictogram features a stylised image of a diver about to hit the water

The 20 original sport pictograms and a further 39 general information pictograms were created by Masasa Katzumie as artistic director and Yoshiro Yamashita as graphic designer. They used simple and schematic shapes to create the silhouette of an athlete's body in action.

Pictograms have been created for every edition of the Games since then.

Tokyo 2020 pictograms designed by Masaaki Hiromura
Pictograms like this one for artistic gymnastics have been used at every Olympics since 1964

"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."

"The 2020 designs took us almost two years to complete and they embody the thoughtful input of the many people involved," he continued.

"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."

Tokyo 2020 pictograms designed by Masaaki Hiromura
The athletics pictogram by Masaaki Hiromura shows a runner mid-race

The sports pictograms will also decorate the fencing around the Olympic athletes' village site, where construction is scheduled to be completed in December 2019.

Led by Tokyo 2020 Gold Partner Mitsui Fudosan it will be the first project in which decorations are installed around the city in the build up to the Games.

Tokyo 2020 pictograms designed by Masaaki Hiromura
The triathlon pictogram incorporates all three sports in one image

Last year, a seven-metre high silver sphere was placed in the atrium of a Tokyo office by artist Akira Fujimoto and architect Yoko Nagayama, replacing the zero in the number 2021, to draw attention to the year after the Olympics takes place.

Fujimoto and Nagayama hope that the work will encourage visitors to look beyond the 2020 Olympics, and start a conversation about the legacy of the games.