2020 Olympics – Tokyo Unveils First-Ever Animated Pictograms

2020 has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start. In just the first few months the international community has faced military tension and a potential new pandemic. So, it’s understandable if the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo Japan, have slipped your mind.

(Image credit: Tokyo 2020)

2020 has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start. In just the first few months the international community has faced military tension and a potential new pandemic. So, it’s understandable if the 2020 Olympics, to be held in Tokyo Japan, have slipped your mind. With the exception of a blanket ban on Russian athletes, there haven’t been too many headlines this year. But the Olympics are making a bit of a comeback, in terms of news-space, with the reveal of the Olympic “Animated Pictograms.”Below are 6 things to know about the new animated emoji, Gifs, stickers, or whatever your preferred nomenclature.

1. They’re Official

The animated pictograms are the creation of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A team, led by Masaaki Hiromura, designed the stickers. They first revealed the minimalist static pictograms in 2019, and they were animated by motion designer Kota Iguchiin order to show the sports in action.

2. For both Olympic and Paralympics sports

As mentioned above, the committee that created the illustrations is the organizing committee of both the Paralympic and Olympic games. So that means, in addition to seeing the obvious running animations, you can also see depictions of Paralympic sports. For example, a wheel-chair-bound athlete hitting a ball with a racket, and sprinter with an artificial leg. It’s great to see representation for athletes that can often be overlooked.

3. 73 all-together

There is certainly a wide variety of the newly revealed animations; 73 all-together, with 23 representing 22 different Paralympic sports, and 50 representing 33 Olympic sports. It’s quite an impressive display of streamlined style meeting fluid animation, and a lot of work obviously went into their design. Which leads to the next point.

4. They took almost two years to create

A good rule of thumb is that the simpler and more elegant a design appears, the more effort and time was put into it. That’s certainly true in this case. The static versions of the emojis, designed by Masaaki Hiromura, were revealed in March of 2019. Almost a year later, the subtle yet painstakingly detailed animated icons were released.

The goal was to “express the dynamic beauty of the athletes through these pictograms while respecting the legacy bequeathed by the pioneers of the Japanese design industry…”

according to Hiromura.

5. They are a part of Japan’s Olympic Tradition

In a fitting twist, the first Olympic Pictograms were created for the 1964 Olympics, which were also hosted in Tokyo. And while the first Paralympic Pictograms were not introduced until the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Japan has made an effort to continue its Olympic heritage by creating animations for both. Iguchi, motion designer, stated.

“I hope they will be passed on to future games as a legacy for the future.”

Iguchi, motion designer, stated.

6. They will be integrated into Olympic programing

The Tokyo Olympics, as pretty much every Olympics does, is aiming to make a splash in terms of innovation. In that vein, the kinetic animations will be integrated into broadcasts and at competition venues. Finally, in a move that highlights the growing importance of the digital sphere, they’ll also be used in digital marketing, social media, and on the Olympic website.

The animated pictograms certainly represent a step forward in several ways. For one thing, the release of the Paralympic gifs in tandem with the Olympic animations shows a move forward in terms of inclusion. For another, the minimal design and ultra-shareable nature of the animations definitely show the importance social media and technology is now playing in design considerations. Clearly, animation-call them, gifs, stickers, or emoji-is the wave of the future.

(Check out how to create personal sticker on your own). 


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