One of the most thought-provoking infographics of the Olympics has nothing to with sports at all.
Artist Gustavo Sousa of the group Mother London uses only the five rings of the Olympic logo to strip down global statistics and expose disparities across th world’s continents.
Each ring in the 16 prints symbolizes one of the five continents competing at the Olympics: Africa (yellow), the Americas (red), Asia (green), Europe (black), and Oceania (blue). Their relative size reflects the region’s role in social issues such as global population, obesity, carbon dioxide emissions and Coca-Cola sales.
Sousa recently told The Fast Company‘s Co.Design blog that he initially left out a key for the graphics, so viewers would have to figure out which color goes with which continent.
The Olympic Charter once ascribed a ring color to each continent: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Oceania, and red for America. But organizers removed that statement from their handbook in 1951.
As you’ll notice, Sousa didn’t use that traditional color coding in his infographics. He described the motivation behind his new project to Co.Design.
“The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect,” he said. “Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal.”
Sousa’s work is more proof that the 2012 Summer Olympics have inspired some fantastic infographics.
At the The New York Times, you can watch Usain Bolt race against all 100-meter gold-medalists since 1896. At the The Huffington Post, you can view the medal counts weighted by the population. And here at NPR, you can explore how athletes’ bodies have changed over the last century.
We were so impressed by the effectiveness of Sousa’s approach that we wanted to see how the medal counts for the 2012 Olympics would look in this style.
Not surprisingly perhaps, the geographic distribution of medals won, at least so far, most closely resembles the percentage of billionaires on each continent –the last graphic in Sousa’s series.