Capturing the Olympic Spirit

The Olympics are an opportunity for the whole world to come together and be united. Though we have different cultures and languages, one common thing we share is a love for sports. The 2020 Summer Olympic games are being held in Tokyo Japan. Every Olympics has their own style of icons to depict the numerous sporting events and communicate which event is which without using a language. Ironically these icons are also called pictograms which mean ‘painted word’. Each pictogram sets are unique every Olympics as well as the individual games logo. The logo had already been created, but the icons of the events have not. I took it upon myself to pitch my idea to the Olympic committee of what I feel the host nation’s icon set should look like. My objective was to create icons that are consistent in design yet each icon communicates something individually. I have used 4 repetitive elements that each of my icons in my icon set contain. I have posted them all together in one set within this blog. The first picture also contains the Olympic rings and the Tokyo 2020 games logo, which is not designed by me, but I wanted to include it because I am pitching this to the Olympic committee. I have also included individual large and small size png’s of each icon. Below I have attached 60×60 pixel icons and 400×400 pixel icons. Each picture is clickable.

Target Audience

My audience for this icon set are sports fans around the world watching the Olympics on TV or in person. The Olympics host hundreds of countries and there are numerous languages spoken. To be able to distinguish which event is which, these pictograms tell each fan which event they are going to watch no matter what language they speak. These icons are generally shown on a flag at the event arena/field or on TV as the station transitions between the numerous events. These icons accomplish their purpose of communicating the events without using letters or words. The icons in of themselves are a universal language for the Olympics.




The color scheme I chose was based off of the host nation’s flag. I used the red and white colors used in the Japanese flag. You’ll notice that the colors match the Japanese flag exactly. I actually made sure that the red was correct by getting the exact RGB color numbers from the UN website, in which they include the correct colors for each nations flag worldwide. The Olympics are a chance for the host nation to showcase their culture and people. I could have used other colors, such as the ones for the Olympic rings, but I felt using any other colors besides the red and white from the flag would represent the host nation better than any other color scheme out there.


Even though each individual icon is of different sporting events, they also show four repetitive elements in every one.  In the draw-over on the left I’ve highlighted all four elements that are repeated in all six icons. I used the basketball one as an example.

  1. My vision for these icons was to represent Japan and the Olympic spirit in as many ways as I could. I did that with the color scheme, but I wanted almost every element I used to be associated with Japan. In the first element I used the Kanji Japanese character. This is used in every stick figure in each icon. The Kanji character stands for inner strength. This represents the Olympic athletes determination and drive. Each athlete needs inner strength to compete. The symbol is really dedicated to the Olympic spirit of inner strength that is displayed throughout the games. I really lucked out because this character already looked like a stick figure. You’ll also notice the arms and head are different strokes common in Kanji characters.
  2. I used the same exact head shape for each character. As stated above, this dot is used in Kanji character style fonts. The head shape makes it look like its the same person doing each event, and though a small detail, it brings all the icons together.
  3. Every icon set has the red Japanese sun from the nations flag as the background behind the stick figure. It is a representation of Japan and it almost looks like the stick figures are playing in front of a Japanese sun
  4. The fourth element is subtle, but you’ll notice that every white stroke has a brush look to it. They are not solid strokes. It makes it look like brush strokes that are used when people are writing calligraphy that is often used with a brush and paint.


The spirit of the games and nation

Overall the message of these icons is to represent the spirit of the Olympic games and of the host nation. These ‘painted words’ are able to be understood by the whole world. They are also pleasing to the eye because they contain competitive elements in each which unite them. These pictograms more than just show what event is being performed, but it also is a tribute to Japan and an opportunity to showcase their country.






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