The Olympic Rings

The Olympic rings are the official symbol of the Olympic Movement. There are five interlacing rings of the colors blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The rings are set upon a white background.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic emblem in 1913. In his words, "These five rings represent the five parts of the world won over to Olympism. . . This is a real international emblem." The Olympic rings represent the union of the areas - the Americas, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Europe and the meeting of athletes throughout the world at the Olympic Games. Contrary to a popular misconception, the colors themselves do not represent any single continent. The colors were chosen because at least one of these colors is found in the flag of every nation.

The original Olympic flag was made at the "Bon Marché" store in Paris. The flag is three meters long and two meters wide. It first flew over an Olympic stadium at the 1920 Antwerp Games. The original flag also carried the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius," Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger."

The Olympic Flame

The most revered and visible symbol of the Olympic Games competition is the Olympic Flame.

During the ancient Games, in Olympia, a sacred flame burned continually on the altar of the goddess, Hera.

In the modern era, the Olympic Flame first appeared at the 1928 Amsterdam Games. The idea for the flame first had been suggested by Theodore Lewald, a member of the International Olympic Committee, who later became one of the chief organizers of the 1936 Berlin Games.

The tradition of the Olympic Torch Relay, which culminates in the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of each Games, dates to the 1936 Berlin Games. Carl Diem, the noted Olympic historian and head of the organizing committee, created the first torch relay to symbolize the link between the ancient and modern Olympic Games. The flame was lit in a ceremony at Olympia, Greece. From there, 3,000 runners carried the torch through seven countries to Berlin. The relay was timed so that the flame arrived at the stadium at the precise moment required. Ever since, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron has become the most hallowed moment of the Olympic Games.

The first torch relay of the Olympic Winter Games was organized for the 1952 Oslo Games. The flame was kindled at the home where legendary Norwegian skier Sondre Nordheim was born. Ninety-four skiers carried the flame to the Opening Ceremony in Oslo's Bislett Stadium. At the 1994 Lillehammer Games, ski-jumper Stein Gruben literally leaped into the Olympic arena with the flame.

The youngest person ever to light the Olympic flame was Robin Perry, age 12, who lit the flame at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games.

At the 2002 Salt Lake City Games the honor of lighting the Olympic Flame was given to a group, rather than an individual or pair, for the first time. The entire 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, led by Captain Mike Eruzione, lit the flame.

Greek windsurfer Nikos Kaklamanakis, a four-time Olympian, was the final torch-bearer at the Opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games.

Amateur Athletic Foundation