2019 NO.27

The Olympics Are Coming to Tokyo


The Changing Face of the Olympic Legacy

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Olympic Designs

Emblem, Olympic relay torch, sports pictograms. Their designs, which bring color and creativity to past and future Olympics, embody the hope for communication beyond words.


The Olympic emblem is the face of the Games. The official emblem for the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 featured a bold combination of the five Olympic rings depicted in gold and the Japanese flag, “The Circle of the Sun.” It expressed the pure and powerful passion of sports competitions. The emblem for the Tokyo 2020 Games, on the other hand, features a traditional Japanese design of an indigo-blue checkered pattern (ichimatsu moyo in Japanese) composed of three varieties of rectangular shapes linked together to convey the aspiration to transcend differences and aim for “unity in diversity.”

An official poster featuring the emblem for the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964
Artistic Director: Kamekura Yusaku, Property of The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, The Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum

The emblems for the Tokyo 2020 Games
©Tokyo 2020


The torch that will adorn the Tokyo 2020 Games Olympic Torch Relay is designed to resemble a cherry blossom. It was made using an aluminum extrusion technology that enables shaping of complex surfaces from a single sheet of aluminum; this technology has been used for bullet trains. The five flower petals of the torch produce flames that rise and come together as one in the center of the torch to shed light on to the “Path of Hope.” The materials used in the making of the torch contain recycled aluminum from temporary housing units built as part of the reconstruction efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake. This was a way to convey to the world the extent to which the affected areas are recovering. The Olympic torch will be ignited in March 2020 to coincide with the beginning of the cherry blossom season in Japan, and it will travel to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures over a period of 121 days.

©Tokyo 2020