— Published 9 February 2023

Paris 2024 dresses the Games in coats of arms

Moving the lines. The expression is now an essential part of the discourse of the Paris 2024 OCOG and its president Tony Estanguet, to the point of becoming a tic de langage. But the Parisian organisers must be given credit for the audacity to put their promises into action.

With 500 days to go before the opening of the Games, the OCOG lifted the veil on Wednesday 8 February on the clothing for the Olympic and Paralympic event. Its look, but also its accessories, the pictograms of the sports. No doubt about it, they are moving the lines. And even, come on, send them straight into the dustbin of history.

The pictograms, first of all. A “marker of the Games“, to use another favourite expression of the OCOG. The Japanese invented them and designed a first collection for the 1964 Tokyo Games. Since then, all Olympic editions have taken up the concept, only allowing themselves to give it a more personalised touch.

For Paris 2024, the OCOG is throwing out the rule book. The pictograms are no longer used. Instead, the visual of each sport or discipline, both Olympic and Paralympic, takes the form of a coat of arms. “A conceptual revolution,” explains Julie Matikhine, the brand manager of the organising committee. “We want to make the sport in its practice coincide with our creative will. A coat of arms is a standard behind which a whole community stands.

No fewer than 62 coats of arms were designed by the OCOG teams (pictured above), in collaboration with the creative agency W. Eight of them are common to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Judo, in particular. They can be static, like an image, or in motion. The common denominator is the absence of an athlete. Instead, a graphic code and, for the majority of them, an object or the lines of a piece of equipment that symbolises the sport.

The result can be surprising. At first glance, it is even rather confusing, as the identification of the coat of arms with its sport or discipline sometimes requires a few seconds of reflection. But time and habit should do the trick.

The crests were tested with the members of the Athletes’ Commission. Julie Matikhine acknowledged this at the beginning of the week, when she unveiled them to a few journalists before their official presentation: “Some athletes were disturbed when they discovered them. Then they expressed their pride at being associated with them.

The IOC? The same. First surprise, then an enthusiastic green light. “They had no idea we were working like this,” explains Julie Matikhine. “But they were delighted with the result and our desire to reconnect the Games with the new generation. The pictogram issue had never been challenged in previous editions.”

Now the look of the Games (photo above). On this issue, the OCOG did not try to reinvent the wheel. It thought in French, even Parisian terms. The result is a formula: colour, but with style.

A graphic charter was devised from a single basic element, the paving stone. Used in all possible variations, with four families of colours (blue, red, green and purple), it will dress the sites and host cities. The look will be identical for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A graphic bible will be distributed from the end of next month to local authorities, partners and broadcasters of the Games. The host cities will be able to draw from it without restraint to design their local design, with the freedom to merge their own elements, notably the monuments, with the design proposed by Paris 2024. “With this paving stone and its variations, everyone will be able to write their own graphic story,” promises Julie Matikhine.

On the competition sites, red will be banned, as it is considered too conspicuous and unsuitable for television broadcasting. The graphics will also be more discreet, especially in the first curtain, closest to the action, so as not to risk “stealing the show from the athletes“. At the Stade de France, the new athletics track will be purple. Paris 2024 style.