Re-Watch: #Tokyo2020 Opening Ceremony Pictograms Performance

One of the highlight moments of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremonies was the performance of pictograms representing the 50 Olympic disciplines.

The idea of sport pictograms, which have become ubiquitous in the Olympics, actually originated in Tokyo when they hosted the 1964 Olympic Games. For the first Olympics ever hosted in Asia, organizers had to figure out how to conquer the language barrier – the Japanese alphabet being different than the Roman alphabet used at every prior Olympics made this challenge more difficult than for prior Olympics.

While the pictograms often take on a different style for each Olympic Games, they have remained a part of the Olympic Games ever since.

In honor of that history, Tokyo 2020 organizers decided to bring them to life – first by creating the first-ever animated Pictograms, and then by actually having a troupe of actors bring them to life in quite clever ways.

If you missed this part of the opening ceremonies, or just want to watch it again, you can find videos of the performance below, as well as different “creating of the pictograms” videos from the last few years (note: multiple videos of the same performance because of geoblocking)

NBC Video Only Available in the United States

BBC Video available in United Kingdom:

Marca Clara Video available in Mexico:


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2 months ago

No thanks

2 months ago

Worst opening ceremonies ever…. I can’t believe sponsors paid for this.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Guerra
2 months ago

No other country would have pulled Olympics opening ceremony in the middle of pandemic.

Bravo Japan!

Dressel’s Eagle
2 months ago

Disagree w these comments. Japan put on a very elegant and moving ceremony. It was very “Japanese”… no need for 10,000 drummers a la Beijing or carnival style Rio. They are an understated people and their culture speaks for itself. They honored their history and tradition with the ceremony. The drone show alone proves why they are world leaders in dedication to technological innovation. Besides, the live pictograms was both ingenious and comical! Bravo to Japan- huge task to organize this during Covid times and they were A+. So many other countries would not have pulled this off. Thank you Japan.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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