Rio 2016 launches Olympic and Paralympic pictograms

For the first time, all Olympic and Paralympic sports will be individually represented by an iconic graphic symbol

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Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic pictograms  (Photo: Rio 2016)
Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic pictograms (Photo: Rio 2016)

Rio 2016 made its contribution to a rich Olympic and Paralympic tradition today, when it launched its sport pictograms (Check it out!). Since Tokyo 1964, each edition of the Games has depicted the sports on its programme through iconic graphic symbols that reflect the culture of the host nation. 

“For the first time, all Olympic and Paralympic  sports are individually represented. This is one of our unique contributions to the history of the Games. I congratulate the creative team for their dedication and hard work together with diverse groups who contributed to this launch,” said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman. 

The pictograms allow people from all parts of the world to immediately identify sports and are used to guide and inform the public, for example in venue signposting and on tickets.

Rio 2016’s Brand Director, Beth Lula, explained that the pictograms are important tools in a variety of contexts. “From now until 2016, the pictograms will serve as a communication platform for the promotion of the sports, for partner activations, and will be present in all the Games’ visual identity, including their application in venue decoration, signposting, tickets and licensed products, among other things.”

The word ‘pictogram’ comes from Greek and Latin, meaning ‘painted word’. This original meaning was the source of inspiration for the first strokes of the Rio 2016 pictograms, which were based on the official Rio 2016 typography. After researching each sport, the first outlines were made by hand. These strokes were then reconstructed on a computer, fitting the contours of the letters.

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. The 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.

During the creative process for the Paralympic pictograms, Rio 2016’s team of designers sought to portray the integration of the athletes’ different impairments with sport in a balanced, natural way, depicting prostheses, blindfolds and other elements.

Work was completed in 16 months, five of which were devoted to the validation of the pictograms by the 42 International Federations. In total, there are 64 pictograms, 41 Olympicand 23 Paralympic . The pictograms can be used both inside and outside the pebbles, in all colours. The pictograms can be used both inside and outside the pebbles, in all colours.

Imagem Rio 2016

The creative process of Rio 2016 pictograms (Photo: Rio 2016/Alex Ferro)

The origin of the strokes: the Rio 2016 font

The development project of the Rio 2016 font, launched in July 2012, was one of the innovations of the Games’ branding programme. The typographic concept, developed by Dalton Maag, was inspired by the letters and numbers of the Rio 2016 logo and the essence of the Games — passion and transformation — which links the Olympic and Paralympic brands.

Based on the contours of Rio, the font represents elements such as the calçadão de Copacabana (Copacabana promenade), which is depicted in the letters ‘m’ and ‘n’, and the Pedra da Gávea (a mountain in Rio de Janeiro), which is depicted in the letter ‘r’. The letters are drawn with a single, continuous stroke, an agile and fluid movement that suggests the movement of athletes.

Creative team

The Rio 2016 Organising Committee opted to set up an internal design team for the creation of the Games’ main graphic elements, probably one of the world’s most complex design projects. In addition to the designers, a group of 28 other Rio 2016 staff were directly involved in the development of the pictograms.

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