Olympic Pictograms


Humans have been solving the problem non-verbally for a very long time. The fact that this continues to be extremely successful can be seen in cave drawings produced tens of thousands of years ago: simple figures consisting of individual lines recount the history of a culture, representing hunting scenes and everyday activities. Today, symbols are an essential part of the modern world. They are called pictograms or icons: stylised, non-verbal representations or instructions that help people to find their way and provide information, even if those people cannot read. Their key element is to be simple, clear and easily understood by people with a wide range of backgrounds. The organisers of the Olympic Games, both summer and winter, quickly recognised the necessity and uses of pictograms (see the chapters on Paris 1924 and London 1948). Athletes from every corner of the world compete at Olympic Games. Olympic sport pictograms have therefore played a pioneering role and enjoy a special status: for decades, their simple, unambiguous representation of athletes, typical poses and/or sports equipment have been a key element of all Olympic Games.


Sports Illustrations 1912–1960


Stockholm 1912

PARIS 1924

GARMISCH P. 1936

BERLIN 1936

LONDON 1948


OSLO 1952

HELSINKI 1952

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO 1956

MELBOURNE 1956

ROME 1960



Olympic Sports Pictograms since 1964


TOKYO 1964

GRENOBLE 1968

MEXICO 1968

SAPPORO 1972

MUNICH 1972


INNSBRUCK 1976

MONTREAL 1976

LAKE PLACID 1980

MOSCOW 1980

SARAJEVO 1984


LOS ANGELES 1984

CALGARY 1988

SEOUL 1988

ALBERTVILLE 1992

BARCELONA 1992


LILLEHAMMER 1994

ATLANTA 1996

NAGANO 1998

SYDNEY 2000

SALT LAKE 2002


ATHENS 2004

TORINO 2006

BEIJING 2008

VANCOUVER 2010

LONDON 2012


SOCHI 2014

RIO 2016

PYEONGCHANG 2018

TOKYO 2020