Olympics 2021: The best and worst Games logos over the years

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The official logos for the Sydney and London Olympics, pictured here in 2000 and 2012.
The official logos for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and London Games in 2012. Image: Getty

Some of the most successful Olympic Games in history have become synonymous with their official logo.

But designers don't always get it right.

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Some Olympic logos have been savaged by critics over the years, while others are widely celebrated and remembered for years after the Games.

Here are some of the best and worst in Olympics history.

Montreal Olympics - 1976

For the 1976 Games, designers transformed the Olympic rings to form a giant red 'M' for Montreal.

It was created by graphic designer Georges Huel, who also helped design the Olympic torch.

However legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser once said the logo was "perhaps more appropriate for a manufacturer of paper towels."

The controversial logo for the Olympics in Montreal, pictured here in 1976.
The controversial logo for the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Image: Supplied

Sydney Olympics - 2000

The logo for the Sydney Olympics was the brainchild of Aussie architect and designer Michael Bryce.

The design took inspiration from the Sydney Opera House and Aboriginal boomerangs to form a stunning piece of art.

"The gestural quality of the drawing and the typography makes the entire mark feel harmonious," Glaser said.

The official logo of the Sydney Olympic Games, pictured here in 2000.
The official logo of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Image: Getty

London Olympics - 2012

Design brand Wolff Olins created the logo for the 2012 Olympics with an eye at making it highly visible on TV screens.

However the design caused controversy, with critic Alice Rawsthorn among those to savage it as "garish".

"I felt then – and still feel now – that the 2012 logo was memorable for the wrong reasons," Rawsthorn said.

"It looked too garish with its clumsy typography and garish shapes.

"The nadir came when viewers complained to the BBC that an animated version has caused epileptic fits."

Lord Sebastian Coe, pictured here at the launch of the 2012 Olympic logo.
Lord Sebastian Coe poses for photographs at the launch of the 2012 Olympic logo. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Tokyo Olympics - 2020 (2021)

The original design for the Tokyo Olympics sparked controversy when it was unveiled.

The Games organising committee had to scrap the design by Kenjiro Sano over allegations he copied the emblem of a Belgian theatre.

"I take a lot of time with every design, nurturing them like children," claimed Sano. 

"So for this kind of talk to emerge is really unfortunate and kind of sad."

The logo was eventually changed to one by by Tokyo-based artist Asao Tokolo.

However there was further controversy when organisers decided to stick with the 'Tokyo 2020' mantra despite the Games being postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Olympic flag and logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, pictured here at the official flag arrival ceremony.
The Olympic flag and logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are displayed during the official flag arrival ceremony. (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

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