The Olympic logos and posters have changed overtime from the use of ancient motifs transitioning to abstract design in the 21st century. One thing that remains is that each year, the Olympic posters represent each Olympic discipline as well as showcasing the venue to the world.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games arrived at a momentous time of the century. Japan, given the honour of hosting the games for this year, did released a not one or two, but a series of posters for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.

In realising this, Japan has engaged with internationally-renowned global artists, photographers and designers to leave cultural and artistic legacies for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Here are our top 8 favourites:

1 Harmonized Chequered Emblem Study for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games [Even edged matters could form harmonized circle with “rule”]

Tokyo 2020 Games poster by artist, Asao Tokolo

The 51-year old Japanese artist, Asao Tokolo, use elements and resources from Japan’s history and culture for his design. The indigo emblem refers to Japanese indigo printing ink that is resistant and remain beautiful over time.

Regarding the shapes, Tokolo shares, “My aim was to create a “relay baton” to be passed on from 2020 to future generations. I created the designs as a tribute to the Tokyo 1964 designers, who relied on compasses and rulers for their creations, and by imagining what mediums would be employed by designers of the future.”

Tokolo’s design also won Tokyo 2020 Emblem for its “refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan”.

2 Fly High!

Tokyo 2020 Games poster by calligrapher, Shoko Kanazawa

The calligraphy on gold tin foil aims to illustrate Japanese’s fine craftsmanship. The energy of athletes shines through the ray of dazzling light and Kanazawa produces the poster in hope for the commitment and enthusiasm of athletes.

3 Tokyo Children

Tokyo 2020 Games poster by photographer, Takashi Homma

The simplest photo holds the most significant meaning. The photographer Homma explains, “I believe that the Olympic Games do not exclusively belong to select athletes. My work expresses the idea that the Games are a memorable beacon of hope that belongs to all people, both young and old.”

4 Now it’s your turn!

Tokyo 2020 Games poster by manga artist, Naoki Urasawa

Urasawa, an acclaimed Japanese manga artist, created a sports manga comic exclusively for Tokyo 2020 Games. “Concluding with the line, “To be continued!” each weekly episode has left readers on the edge of their seats, just like watching a real match,” he expressed.

5 The Games People Play

Tokyo 2020 Games poster by artist, Chris Ofili

Ofili describes his poster presenting the image of a high jumper, arching over a red circle–the sun. He considered it a “universal leap” that signifies the achievements of Tokyo 2020 Games. 33 sports of the games are listed on the banner to the right and sports that discernible again are written on the colourful waterfall on the left.


Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games poster by graphic designer, Goo Choki Par

A design unit based in Tokyo pays homage to the achievements of athlete and history of human endeavour in this poster. The motif as explained, “An individual who moves forward. Arms swinging boldly, feet hitting the ground with full force. This primitive embodiment of movement represents the determination of all Paralympians trying to move forward toward a surer future.”

7 The Sky above The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games poster by manga artist, Hirohiko Araki

Katsushika Hokusai’s print ” The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa” is the main compositional motif for Araki’s design. He imagined that the gods of sports descending on Japan from a sky filled with clouds resembling turbulent waves.

8 Higher than the Rainbow

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games poster by photographer and film director, Mika Ninagawa

Ninagawa says, “In a space containing just me, my camera, and Renshi Chokai, I simply pressed the shutter button.” She believed that spontaneity is often the source of something transcendental.

Text by Jessy Wong • Photos and references from Tokyo 2020 Games

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