Data visualization and storytelling


How to visualize the Olympics

Some ideas and inspiration for creating data graphics about the Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed for a year, the Summer Olympics are starting in Tokyo today. From countdowns and medals tables to team line-ups and venue maps, there are endless ways to visualize Olympics results data or get readers excited for the events ahead. Here are six ideas to get you started, drawing on a range of different Flourish templates.

1. Replay events with our new “Sports race” template

Our brand new Sports race template allows you to visualize events that involve a fixed track or course – such as athletics, swimming, and sailing.

The template comes ready to use for a number of sports, but you can also easily upload your own track and participant icons to cover different sports. The settings allow you to recreate all the races at this year’s Olympics, and even give medals to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place athletes!

Create your own Sports race »

To get started with the Sports race template

  • Choose your sport from the Sports race starting points on the template chooser page
  • Upload your data: with one column of your participants followed by columns of times. These can be finish times, laps, or checkpoints along the race.
  • Read more in our overview help doc about how to customize your Sports race.

2. Create a countdown to the start of the games

Using the Countdown template, it’s easy to make a live counter for your website to count down to a specific event or the closing ceremony. You can even customize the format to display text, images or HTML content.

Read more about this little template and its sister, the number ticker, in our blog post.

Create your own countdown »

3. Communicate key facts with interactive charts

When it comes to simple stats, basic chart types are often the best choice, but you can bring these to life with interaction. Tokyo 2021 is set to be the first Olympics with as many female athletes as male representing their countries. Here, we’ve used the Area chart (stacked) chart type from the Line, bar & pie template with some custom popup content to show the historical breakdown of Olympians by gender.

Create your own Line, bar, or pie chart»

4. Create a zoomable marker map of event venues

With the Marker map template, it’s easy to visualize locations on an interactive map. In the example below, we’ve plotted venue information and images from the official Olympics website on a simple vector base map with an initial viewport focused on Tokyo.

To bring your map to life, try creating a guided tour using a Flourish story, as shown below. To add a new view to your story, simply duplicate the slide and adjust the zoom and pan.

Create your own 3D map»

5. Create a medals table with our Pictogram template

Also newly released, our Pictogram template allows you to communicate statistics in a visually engaging way: encoding numeric data as groups of repeated icons, each of which represents a fixed quantity.

Instead of creating yet another bar chart, we’ve brought our medals table to life using award icons to summarize the top winners at the 2016 Rio Olympics. We also made use of filler icons to create a cleaner look. You can learn more about the Pictogram template in our blog post.

Create your own pictogram visualization »

6. Visualize historical analysis in a heatmap

A heatmap is a great way of showing an overview of your data and comparing different categories, which can come in handy with Olympics data. For example, you could show historic data from particular sports and highlight how some countries outperformed others.

In our story below, we’ve visualized the medals won by each country in swimming events as well as for female artistic gymnastics. Learn more about the heatmap template in this blog post.

Create your own Heatmap »

Explore Olympics coverage by other Flourish users

In the cards below, you’ll find a few examples of Olympics coverage made by the Flourish community. If you have Olympics visualizations you’d like to see displayed here, reach out to to share your creations!