Thirty-four different languages are spoken in Europe alone. For this reason it was necessary for the OC in the interest of international visitors not to limit itself to verbal information, but rather to take advantage of the possibility of generally intelligible pictorial symbols. The OC also conceived a second visual system in addition to the sports symbols which were intended to serve as general information. This system was constructed of pictograms - symbols which translate the message into visually understood picture language. It especially included directions to services, transportation and information which would make the flow of communication possible and also ease it.
The System of Symbols for Various Sports
There were only four different traffic signs in 1922. Today there are more than 150. The continually closer interrelation among traffic, information, the economy or tourism demands new methods of communication. Often the very simplest verbal communication is frustrated because of a lack of the knowledge required for a language or alphabet. This is especially obvious at large international events at which visitors from every continent participate.
It was also a major task for the Munich organizers to design a system of visual symbols of universal intelligibility which would aid visitors in regard to information and communications. Thus there are two systems; one being the sports symbols and the other being the pictograms for information regarding services and traffic which have been described already. The sports symbols do not have the function merely to symbolize the individual athletic disciplines in the press, on television or medals and souvenirs, but they are simultaneously means of information regarding the sports sites and training areas of a specific sport. With the aid of arrows the symbols pointed the way and designated those coaches and helpers responsible for a certain sport as well as the admission tickets, schedules, rules and regulations listings, etc.
After the first attempts at the 1956 Olympic
Games in Melbourne, a closed system of symbols was conceived for the first
time under the direction of Masaru Katsumi in 1964 for the Olympic Games
in Tokyo. The value of the system as a universally intelligible means of
information instead of multilingual verbal messages was so effective that
all succeeding Games would not be possible without such a system. At the
1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, the Mexican OC developed a system of
symbols, which nevertheless had a more illustrative character and was based
on sports equipment.