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

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  The Olympic Cauldron burns in front of the London 2012 logo during the Women's Marathon on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Olympic Cauldron burns in front of the London 2012 logo. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When it comes to official logos, the Olympic Games has thrown up some iconic logos which have since become retro sporting classics.

Yet, designers summoned by chiefs to produce the goods haven't always come up trumps.

Some logos have been rubbished by critics and Olympic aficionados over the years, while others are widely revered for years after the games.

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

Montreal Olympics – 1976

For the 1976 summer games, the Olympic rings were transformed into a giant red "M", for Montreal.

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

Not everyone was a fan if the 1976 logo: legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser once said it was "perhaps more appropriate for a manufacturer of paper towels".

ABC SPORTS - 1976 SUMMER OLYMPICS - The 1976 Summer Olympic Games aired on the ABC Television Network from July 17 to August 1, 1976. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
The 1976 Olympic Games logo was controversial. (ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

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 logo for Sydney's 2000 Olympic Games is launched in Sydney, September 14, and features at its centre three Aboriginal boomerang shapes joined together in a stylised image of an athlete. Games organisers expect to earn A$100 million (US$80 million) in royalties over the next four years from domestic and international merchandising.

The logo for Sydney's 2000 Olympic Games features at its centre three Aboriginal boomerang shapes joined together in a stylised image of an athlete. (Reuters)

London Olympics – 2012

Design brand Wolff Olins created the 2012 logo with the intent of making it highly visible on TV screens.

It 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."

LONDON - JUNE 04:  Lord Sebastian Coe unveils the London 2012 Olympics emblem during the press launch of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic brand and vision at the Roundhouse on June 4, 2007 in London, England. The new Olympic emblem is based on the number 2012, the year of the Games, and includes the Olympic Rings, one of the world's most recognised brands, and the word 'London', the world's most diverse city. The same 2012 images, with the Paralympic agitos, symbolises the Paralympic Games. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Lord Sebastian Coe poses for photographs at the launch of the 2012 Olympic logo. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Tokyo Olympics – 2020 (2021)

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

The organising committee had to scrap Kenjiro Sano's design over allegations he had 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 the below design, by Tokyo-based artist Asao Tokolo.

However, there was further controversy when organisers decided to stick with the "Tokyo 2020" caption despite the games being postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tokyo 2020 logo is seen at the Tokyo International Exhibition Centre, also known as Tokyo Big Sight, where the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are located, in Tokyo on June 28, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
The eventual Tokyo 2020 logo. (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)