Rio 2016 Olympic pictograms

 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.

Rio pictograms 2016

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 statue of Christ the Redeemer (below).

games typeface

Rio statue

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

Archery pictogram

 Taekwondo 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 pictogram

Equestrian jumping

Paralympics set

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 pictogram

Paralympic archery

Five-a-side football pictogram

Five-a-side football

Road cycling pictogram

Road cycling

Sitting volleyball pictogram

Sitting volleyball

Shooting pictogram


 Wheelchair rugby pictogram

Wheelchair rugbby

Table tennis pictogram

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

Barcelona's pictograms

and London

London's pictograms

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

team's Munich set

which themselves owed a debt to the Japan set

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

Diving pictogram

and judo

Judo pictogram

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 pictogram

Para Triathlon