What do the Olympic rings represent?

The Olympics are divided between summer and winter events and take place every four years. The seasons alternate in such a way that an event takes place once every two years. Athletes from more than 200 countries come together to compete in the most important sporting competition in the world. Since its inception, other Olympic Games have been created, including the Youth Olympics and the Paralympics. Some symbols are used to convey the meaning and identity of the Olympics. These symbols are: rings, flame and motto. This article examines what the Olympic rings represent.

The Olympic rings

One of the most recognized symbols of the Olympic games are the five rings. Five rings were chosen to symbolize the Olympics because its sports competitors come from the continents 5. These rings are displayed in an overlapping way to represent the international cooperation behind the games and the union of athletes from all over the world. Originally, the rings were stacked in a row. Today, all five rings overlap with three located in the top row and two in the bottom row.

Colors of the rings

The colors of the rings are green, black, yellow, red and blue set against the white background of the flag. At the time of selection, these were the colors found on each of the flags of the participating countries. This was done to include all nations and to create an international symbol that left no member unrepresented.

History of the rings

Although the modern form of the Olympic Games began in 1896, it was only in 1912 that the participants came from the five inhabited continents. In 1913, Pierre de Coubertin became the first to use the rings when he drew them on top of a letter. The rings were first presented publicly as a symbol for the 1914 Olympics at the Olympic Congress in Paris. They were displayed on a white flag. Due to the First World War, the Olympic Games were canceled until 1920, which was when the first Olympic flag was officially exposed. This flag has further strengthened the goal of the Olympics: world unity.

Traditionally, the flag with the Olympic rings was raised in the stadium only as part of the opening and closing ceremonies. The 1960 games were held in Italy and became the first time the Olympic flag was transported to the stadium as part of the ceremonies. Since 1971, this act has been done by a participating athlete. Today, the mayor of the host city hands over the flag to the mayor of the next host city at the end of the Olympics.

The rings are not only represented on the flag. They were also found on the medals presented to the winning athletes. The first time they were used was in 1924, although the following summer Olympic games used a different design. The rings were no longer used in the summer medals until 1956 for the Equestrian Games in Stockholm, Sweden. The Summer Olympics began to use the rings again during the 1976 Montreal games and have since appeared on the medals. The medals of the Winter Olympics, however, showed the rings from 1928.

Furthermore, the Olympic rings can be found on souvenirs, collector stamps and official posters.

Regulated use of the Olympic rings

Today this symbol belongs to the International Olympic Committee and cannot be used without their explicit permission. Its appearance has been officially adjusted, including the positioning of the ring and the color tone. Host countries usually design an Olympic emblem to represent games in their countries. This emblem must be presented and approved by the International Olympic Committee. The emblem of Australia, for example, shows the rings and the emblem of the town, a shield with a kangaroo and an emu on both sides.


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