Rio 2016





At the Games in Rio, photography was also an Olympic sport – much like the old days, when artists competed for medals. 


By Camilla Alfthan, all photos by Richard Juillart


Art became an Olympic discipline when Pierre de Coubertin revived the ancient Greek traditions 1600 years after they had ceased to take place.  De Coubertin, who said that man consists of three, not two,  parts –  body, soul and character –  also strongly believed in the symbiosis between sports and the arts.


Painters, sculpturers, architects, writers and composers competed for Olympic Medals until it was all over again at the Helsinki Games in 1952 which in return allowed women to compete in equestrian sports.

Olympic art is still created every single day of the competitions immortalising the athletes.  One such artist is Magnum photographer, Richard Juillart who has covered four Olympic Games.


Based in his native Switzerland, Juillart has worked for the IOC for a decade covering the games in Turin, Beijing, Vancouver and London, while he’s  also photographed the youth games in Singapore and Innsbruck.

But his works are much more than just the world of sports.

Juillart usually sets off with his camera bags to conflict zones in South Sudan, Northern Nigeria,Liberia, Palestine, Ukraine and Liban. Juillart has worked for various NGOs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Haiti where he captured the ruins of the earth quake while he photographed the devastations of the tsunami in Indonesia.


“Soon I’m going to Africa to cover other conflicts, “ he tells after a couple of busy weeks in Brazil.


With an endless palette of genres, the Olympics are a welcome break where all the struggles and the intense battles are just about sport.


“For the past two years I’ve worked with the FEI on various projects to illustrate their various campaigns and projects. I was asked to make untraditional images – they gave me free reigns which was fantastic when you consider that this is coming from a sports federation. They wanted a new approach and not the angle of a specialist. That was not always easy as the equestrian world has many codes and rites so I had to observe a lot before starting to photograph,” Juillart tells.


“I was asked to make untraditional images – they gave me free reins which was fantastic” 


Despite the up hill struggles, the organisers in Rio did well, he finds.

“It is more than difficult to organize Olympic Games even for cities with a lot of experience in organising international events and I think they managed to meet the challenges. There were, of course, a few hickups, but they were quickly sorted out.

The security was obviously a challenge though one just had to be prudent and not walk at night in the middle of the favela. I’ve covered world championships in Europe and believe me; the theft of photo equipment was far more important there. For a photographer it can be just as risky to walk the streets of Paris, London or Madrid with all your equipment as in Rio.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on several equestrian venues for the Olympics and to me, the stables in Rio were the best with lots of space for the horses.”


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