Rio 2016 Olympic pictograms unveiled

The Rio 2016 Organising Committee has unveiled the design of the pictograms for the next Olympic Games. For the first time, all Olympic and Paralympic sports are individually represented

The Rio 2016 Organising Committee has unveiled the design of the pictograms for the next Olympic Games. For the first time, all Olympic and Paralympic sports are individually represented

The pictograms were created by the Rio 2016 in-house team. They are derived from the games typeface (below), which was designed by Dalton Maag and which, in turn, was influenced by the Rio logo (above) and by aspects of the city itself, such as the famous staue of Christ the Redeemer (below).


The in-house team matched the lines of the pictograms with those of the typeface’s letterforms. “The athlete bodies and sports equipment were built from the characters, or part of them, in a continuous stroke, with variations in thickness in order to give the impression of depth,” according to the Rio team.

Archery pictogram




The pictograms are set within pebble shapes, “which are a characteristic of Rio 2016’s visual language, support the designs and alter their shape according to the athletes’ different movements,” we are told.


Equestrian jumping


For the Paralympics set (above), the “designers sought to portray the integration of the athletes’ different impairments with sport in a balanced, natural way, depicting prostheses, blindfolds and other elements.”

Paralympic archery


Five-a-side football


Road cycling


Sitting volleyball




Wheelchair rugby


Table tennis


It’s not often appreciated what a massive job the Olympics pictograms are – not necessarily in design terms but with the politics involved. Approval has to be sought from 42 separate International Federations, each of which will have very strong views about the way in which their sport is depicted. So it’s no surprise to hear that this process alone took the Rio team five months. The project took 16 months in total.


Stylistically, the Rio pictograms follow the lead of Barcelona


and London


in deriving their visual language from the logo and overall branding of the games


Designers will forever pine for the simplicity and elegance of Otl Aicher and team’s Munich set


which themselves owed a debt to the Japan set


but there is a logic to Rio’s derivation of their set from the typeface. The results fit well into the general scheme, although they do get a little confused at times.. Here, for example, is the diving pictogram


And judo


But it’s fantastic to see the Paralympic sports being given equal treatment in design terms and the assimilation of the various prostheses and special equipment used is handled well

Para Triathlon




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