A key: Oceania=blue, Europe=black, Americas=red, Africa=yellow, Asia=green. "I wanted the prints to be representative of the world, the games, and its sponsors," says Gustavo Sousa of his Olympic project. It’s clear, and perhaps not surprising, that the ratio of billionaires is not equal across the continents.

Big-time Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola’s sales are strongest in the Americas.

There’s a heartbreakingly huge discrepancy in the amount of people living with HIV across the regions represented.

Oceania barely makes the map for homicides.

It’s a little surprising that the Americas’ circle isn’t way bigger on this illustration of military expenditures.

Would you have been able to identify these continents, based on the statistics shown, without a key?

Infographics: Using The Olympic Rings To Show Vast Inequalities

Gustavo Sousa uses the "beautiful and elegant" logo to show discrepancies between participating countries.

The Olympics promise many things--triumph of the human spirit, amazing athletic prowess, upsets and underdogs--but the most modern games are ultimately nothing if not a massive, global spectacle. Gustavo Sousa, a painter and creative director at Mother’s London office, was interested in exploring behind the pomp and circumstance. “Events like these can be a good time for reflection,” Sousa tells Co.Design. Oceaniaeuropeamericaasiaafrica illustrates stripped-down statistics from each region through simple scale shifts of the tournament’s iconic quintet of overlapping loops.“The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect. Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal.”

Oceania: blue. Europe: black. Americas: red. Africa: yellow. Asia: green.

“I was reading about the logo one day and realized the colors represented the five continents,” he says. “It’s beautiful and elegant, and I thought I could make something out of that.” Everything from percentage of millionaires to McDonald’s outlets gets a graph; all-in-all, there’s 16 prints--one for each day of the games--and a live projection, which will be exhibited in East London during the festivities. And if you find yourself searching for a key while scrolling through his site, you’re out of luck; its omission was intentional. “The reason I didn’t reveal which is which because you can almost figure that out as you read through; I thought that process of discovery was interesting.”

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20 Comments

  • Sufragista

    "The current view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is that the symbol "reinforces the idea" that the Olympic Movement is international and welcomes all countries of the world to join.[7] As can be read in the Olympic Charter, the Olympic symbol represents the union of the five regions of the world and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. However, no continent is represented by any specific ring. Prior to 1951, the official handbook stated that each colour corresponded to a particular continent: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Australia and Oceania and red for America (North and South considered as a single continent); this was removed because there was no evidence that Coubertin had intended it (the quote above was probably an afterthought)."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O...

  • Shane norton

    I really dont know why this thing keeps getting shared.

    1) its confusing

    2) Colors bear no relationship to the continents - so whats the point?

    2) without any solid data a reference point. Simply showing shapes  scaling is meaningless and inane

    3) its the worst kind of design which reduces serious topics to and exercise in eye candy.

  • Dmoney

    1) Go back to school to learn about infographics
    2) Really? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O...
    2 (which should really be 3)) the size gives an overall impression of percentages. You don't really need each ring to provide an actual %number along with it. most people will get it - you obviously don't
    3 (should really be 4)) It's actually thoughtful design like this that puts vast amounts of data into "laymen's" visual terms. They are able to provide high-level details foro overall impression without needing the information overload.

  • Icenine64

    "There’s a heartbreakingly huge discrepancy in the amount of people living with HIV across the regions represented."

    Is it your assertion that there should more HIV cases in the other countries? WTF?!

  • Calvin

    I find it interesting that you use an event that is all about competition (you know - winners and losers); but your entire graph implies that equality is the goal.

  • Shilpi

    This is a random UI thing, but when I like your articles on Facebook at the top (before the article), I can't put a title to my likes. When I like it on the bottom, it works. Please fix the top part!

  • Julianne

    You guys did the colors wrong. They already have meanings and it would have been less confusing to interpret the infographics if you hadn't changed it around.

    Blue = Europe
    Black = Africa
    Green = Oceania
    Red = the Americas
    Yellow = Asia

  • Sharks

    I was about to say, that the colours are completely wrong.

    It makes it quite confusing especially as the colours already have their own relation to each continent, set when the Olympic rings were first designed.

  • JacJaq

    A good and interesting project. I think it works better without a key. Congratulations and good luck, Nicholas.

  • Mochipants

    If you're going to make a video such as this, it needs context. Just flashing the squished-together names of the continents won't cut it, you need to explain from the get-go what colors mean what. Otherwise the entire video lends itself to confusion instead of clarity.

  • Benny

    "... Watch out, it is wrong to say that each of the colours corresponds to a certain continent! Rather, the five colours combined with the white background, at the time, represent the colours of the flags of all nations without expectations."

    http://registration.olympic.or...

  • Andrew

    nicholas,
    thanks for you note of explanation even though it was fairly obvious by the order of the rings in relation to the order of the global terminology below the graphic. one bit of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism would be to put that text in the corresponding colors of the olympic rings. simple. equally as elegant as your work. done.



  • Khoa

    according to the original meaning of the colored rings according to the original flag... Blue stands for Europe, black for Africa, Red for America, Yellow for Asia and, green for Oceania.

  • Phil

    Also most of these stats would be much more meaningful if they were per capita rather than raw numbers considering the population of Asia is nearly 4 billion and the population of Oceania is just over 35 million according to Wikipedia. It hard to say whether there's any meaning to the statement that "Oceania barely makes it on the map for homicides."

  • Danny

    Are the stats represented by the DIAMETER of the rings or the AREA of the rings? There are major perception differences depending on which is the case.

  • P-tah

    Not bad, but maybe he should have done some more research about the logo/rings colors and the continent it represents.  The only one that sticks to original color i is red for the Americas.

  • Nicholas Yankosky

    “ The Olympic flag [...] has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green
    and red [...]. This design is symbolic; it represents the five continents of the world, united by Olympism, while
    the six colours are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time. ” (1931)

    Textes choisis, vol. II, p.470.