story

Every emblem of the Olympics tells a story. For example, one health the one of the Beijing Olympics represents Beijing’s hospitality and hopes. It is also said that in its dancing (for the emblem is called “Chinese Seal, Dancing Beijing) carries the city’s commitment to the world.

Creating an emblem that should satisfy all, and if not the greater majority, is a hard task… because there are, in effect, more majorities to please: the people of the host country, the IOC, the politicians, the cultural representatives, the opinion leaders, pundits, corporate sponsors, media, academia and so on. More than that, the emblem needs to be a concentrated symbol of a nation, of a region and also of a concept for equality, peace and performance. Therefore, to tell such a story and concentrate in a few images and even less words is, as I said, a hard task. Yet, as hard as it seems as the cities that hosted the Olympics managed to come up with an emblem that not only told their story but also the one of the Olympic ideals, goals and hopes.

Every emblem tells a story but nobody yet, not as far as I know, told the story of all the emblems, of how they were created, what they represent, how and why they were chosen. I wonder where the other sketches, the non-winning ones are so that I could tell the story of all the Olympic emblems.

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Well, the 5 Olympics mascots (fuwa in Mandarin) do have several levels of reading !

They represent the 5 Olympic Rings (therefore the 5 Continents), but also the 5 Elements of Chinese Tradition, two endangered species from China (The Giant Panda and the Chirou Antelope) and the 5 sylabs of a Mandarin greeting.

Everything you need to know about then is on Wikipedia, with Marketing analysis here: http://coolbranding.wordpress.com/2007/08/28

Thanks Alfred for the insight.

Looking into the Olympic mascots would be the next step after deciphering the emblems for both the emblems and the mascots are the most important image bearers of each Olympic games.

And we note the absence of a dragon. At a dinner with some postgrads in Beijing last year, one of them mentioned that these animals do not suitably symbolize the Chinese values and identity. They were questioning the legitimacy of these mascots.

Whether this is true or not, it’s interesting that Dragons are absent. One might envisage it to be an indication of Olympic progressiveness, though I anticipate that there are other explanations. Of course, the presumption that there might have been a dragon at all, might need questioning. I think also the Pan-Asian Games used one, so maybe this is simply an attempt to be distinct. I think dragons were used in the handover ceremony from Athens in 2004.

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