The SEA Games Logos Through the Years
Last year, the Philippine government unveiled the SEA Games 2019 logo. According to then SEA Games organizing committee chair Alan Peter Cayetano, it was designed by a top-notch advertising agency based in Hong Kong. But Filipinos had a very different opinion about the logo, which sparked a spontaneous national campaign to redesign the logo.
The 2019 Sea Games Logo
People likened the 2019 SEA Games logo with pieces of rubber bands that were carelessly lumped together to form an ambiguous shape. Others spread a rumor that it was designed using shapes in Microsoft Word 2000. Graphic artists created their own versions SEA Games logos in a bid to have the current one replaced. But the SEA Games organizing committee did not budge.
“The best logos are those that a grade 5 student, a grade 4 student, can draw,” said Cayetano in an interview with Rappler in 2018, defending the design. Whether the current logo’s design is good or bad, we leave the judgement to you, but it will definitely go down in SEA Games history as one of the most unforgettable.
The following is a visual history of how the SEA Games logo was interpreted and designed by the different countries that hosted the games through the years.
1977 SEA Games Logo by Malaysia
The logo features six interlinked circles above what looks like an 8-petalled flower that resembles a hibiscus or gumamela, which is Malaysia’s national flower. Its colors represent Malaysia’s national colors of blue, red, and white.
1979 SEA Games Logo by Indonesia
Indonesia went for a symmetrical design in 1979 that speaks of equality and unity. Its logo consists of 7 interlocking silver rings in a white background, and ten white stalks in an orange background.
1981 SEA Games Logo by the Philippines
The 1981 logo is a departure from the usually smooth design, this time opting for bold, hard lines, sharp edges, and dark hues. It also opted for a black border with large, bold, uppercase fonts displaying “MANILA ‘81” at the center.
1983 SEA Games Logo by Singapore
Singapore brought back the colors to the logo in 1983 by designing a multicolored tiled background with a large “83” front and center. Below it, the traditional interlocking circles is found above several lines that look like waves.
1985 SEA Games Logo by Thailand
Thailand kept it simple and unique in 1985 by adopting the Southeast Asian Games Federation’s interlocking rings and featuring it front and center, then added the Grand Palace roof, Thailand’s most popular tourist attraction.
1987 SEA Games Logo by Indonesia
The design for Jakarta 1987 looks like a combination of Manila’s 1981 logo and its own 1979 logo. It is symmetrical, but looks monotonous due to its lack of colors.
1989 SEA Games Logo by Malaysia
Malaysia once again incorporated a national symbol in the SEA Games logo in 1989. The logo features 6 elliptical rings alternately colored red and blue to form a shape that resembles a spinning top. Above the top is the interlocking rings of the SEA Games Federation.
1991 SEA Games Logo by the Philippines
Manila finally eschewed the dictatorial vibe of its previous logo by coming up with an abstract design that resembles a colorful vinta, a traditional outrigger boat. A smaller addition of the obligatory interlocking rings is featured on the right side.
1993 SEA Games Logo by Singapore
Taking a cue from Malaysia and the Philippines, Singapore also incorporated a national icon in the 1993 logo: The Merlion. The colors blue, yellow, red, black and green are colors of the Olympic movement and represent sportsmanship.
1995 SEA Games Logo by Thailand
Thailand’s logo in the 1995 games depicts a Bo Sang umbrella. The umbrella also resembles a running athlete, which represents all the participants’ determination in the games. It also made use of the Olympic colors to symbolize sportsmanship.
1997 SEA Games Logo by Indonesia
Indonesia made a stark departure from its previous symmetrical designs and opted for a more vibrant design for the 1997 logo. It depicts three flames and two torch rings. The upward fmovement of the flames lames represent the aspiration of participating nations. The red represents spirit, the blue represents the dynamism, the yellow represents the hope.
1999 SEA Games Logo by Brunei
The 1999 logo by Brunei is an image of triumph: it depicts a runner crossing the finish line with arms raised up in victory. It also depicts an image of a torch, which symbolizes vitality, sportsmanship, and tradition. It is one of the best abstract logos of the SEA Games.
2001 SEA Games Logo by Malaysia
The 2001 is another flame, just like the two previous logos by Brunei and Indonesia. The flame symbolizes the games’ passion, while its weaving pattern represents unity amidst diversity in the region. The weaving also has a hidden symbol, forming the letters XXI, the Roman numeral for 21, which stands for the 21st SEA Games.
2003 SEA Games Logo by Vietnam
For the first time, Vietnam was allowed to host the games. The logo is an abstract image of a legendary bird in Vietnamese culture. The three upward brush strokes represent the games' theme for the year: Faster, Higher, Stronger.
2005 SEA Games Logo by the Philippines
The 2005 logo by the Philippines is one of the most vibrant and appealing of all SEA Games logos because for the first time, it showcases a face. The logo features an athlete wearing a gold festival mask. It represents the high emotions in every game, such as the feelings of triumph, suffering, joy, and pain. The 11 bands above the mask represent the 11 participating countries in the games.
2007 SEA Games Logo by Thailand
The 2007 logo features three boats travelling together, which represents the unity, cooperation, and sportsmanship among Southeast Asian countries. It also symbolizes the Pimai Castle in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of King Bhumibol.
2009 SEA Games Logo by Laos
Laos hosted the games for the first time in 2009. For the logo, Laos used an image of Pha That Luang, the national landmark and shrine of Laos beside the Mekong River. The shrine represents Laos as the host of the 2009 Southeast Asian Games, while the river represents the origin of life and the culture of the Lao People.
2011 SEA Games Logo by Indonesia
Indonesia also made use of a national symbol for the 2011 SEA Games Logo. It is an image of Garuda, a legendary bird-like creature. It represents strength, glory, and splendor.
2013 SEA Games Logo by Myanmar
For the first time and thanks to its government’s efforts to transition to democratic rule, Myanmar was allowed to host the games in 2013. For its logo, it depicted a map of Myanmar as an athlete playing a sport. The colors represent equality, courage, and love of nature.
2015 SEA Games Logo by Singapore
The 2015 logo is pretty straightforward: A group of athletes playing different sports. The different colors represent diversity and excitement during the games.
2017 SEA Games Logo by Malaysia
In 2017, Malaysia opted for a national icon, the Wau Bulan, a crescent kite traditionally flown in its east coast. The logos’ colors are derived from the national flags of all the participating countries.