HomeMust KnowThe significance of Olympic flag & five Olympic rings

The significance of Olympic flag & five Olympic rings

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As we all know, the Olympics are an international multi-sport that takes place once every four years. But a lot of us don’t know about the Olympic flag in which multicolored five Olympic rings are present. The Olympic flag depicts the “Olympic rings”, five intertwined rings, on a white background. The five Olympic rings are believed to represent the five Continents of the planet, i.e. Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, both North America & South America are taken into consideration. Whereas Antarctica is not taken into consideration.

The modern Olympic Games, the form in which we see the event today, is very old and in fact, commenced quite a century ago. Their creation was inspired by the traditional Olympic Games which used to take place in Olympia, Greece from 8th Century BC to the 4th Century AD. The event was the thought of Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman who was the founding member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. It resulted in the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

The governing body of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) is IOC. It is responsible for protecting the worldwide “Olympic Movement”. The Flag and Rings are only exclusive to the IOC and can be used only by them at the Olympics Games. However, athletes are allowed to compete under the Olympic flag if a National Olympic Committee cannot be held responsible for his athlete. Basically, if an athlete is not representing a country or any union, they can take part under the Olympic Flag.

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Olympic Flag & Rings: The IOC’s mission

  • To encourage and support the organization, development, and coordination of sport and sports competitions.
  • Ensure the Olympic Games are celebrated regularly.
  • To cooperate with the various organizations and authorities in the endeavor to place sport at the service of humanity.
  • Promote peace by uniting people of various countries, races, religions.
  • To take preventive measures against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement and the people affiliated with it.
  • To support and encourage the promotion of women in sport at all levels. And in all structures to implement the principle of equality of men and women. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be a massive step in the direction of promoting gender equality.

Versions of Olympic Flag

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According to the IOC, the official Olympic flag can be made in two versions; 

  • A two-color version, with the background being white or black, or

Olympic flag KreedOn
Image Source: quora

  • A six-color version, which has to be in the order blue, yellow, black, green, and red, on a white background.

Olympic flag KreedOn
Image Source: wiki

History & significance of Olympic Rings

Olympic flag KreedOn
Image Source: olympics.com

Initially, there are no specific procedures to follow the alignment of these Olympic rings. They were arranged in odd patterns. Eventually, it was decided that there should be strict rules about the arrangement pattern and color. Nowadays, there is a strict code about the utilization of this symbol. It has got to be adhered to under any circumstances. Even if the Olympic rings are depicted on a black background, the black ring shouldn’t be substituted by a ring of any other color. As with other Olympic symbols, these rings are considered exclusive to the IOC. As mentioned above, it cannot be used without their approval. The interlaced Olympic rings stand for the unity of the five continents, which beliefs embracing it on a common platform, i.e. the Olympic Games.

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History of Olympic Flag

  • 1913 introduction of Olympic rings:- The Olympic rings were presented in front of the world for the first time in 1913. In the center of a white background, five rings interlaced: blue, yellow, black, green, and red.
  • 1920 the official Olympic debut of the Olympic rings:- For the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, the Olympic rings, set on the white background of the Olympic flag, made their first appearance at the Games.
  • 1957 definition of the Olympic rings:- In 1957, the IOC officially approved a specific version and different versions of the Olympic rings and was displayed at the Australia Olympics.
  • 1986 Graphic design & the Olympic rings:- Although spaces between the Olympic rings had already been seen in their visual presentation, in 1986 the IOC Graphics Standards included a description of how an official version of the Rings with spaces should be produced.
  • 2010 the return to the timeless original Olympic rings:- As approved in 2010 by the IOC Executive Board, the official version of the Olympic rings returned to its original, seamlessly interlaced design, fulfilling Coubertin’s vision.

The Official version

Today, there are seven official versions of the Olympic rings.

The full-color version or the six-color version including white background is the preferred version of the Olympic rings. Indeed, this full-color Olympic rings version is the embodiment of Pierre de Coubertin’s original vision; the six colors on the flag symbolize Olympism’s universality. 

The monochrome Olympic rings provide an alternative to the full-color Olympic rings. The Olympic rings may appear in any of the six official Olympic colors when necessary.

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Aditya Mishra
IIMC'n. National Level Athlete (400m- 50.23). Sports and Defence enthusiast. Busy decoding: "MANSHA-VACHA-KARMA"

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