The biggest sporting event on planet earth, the Olympic Games are organized every four years. The Olympics comprise both Summer Games and Winter Games, which are held alternatively with a gap of two years. The Olympics witnesses the participation of thousands of athletes from all across the globe and winning an Olympic medal is a matter of great prestige for both athletes and the countries they belong to. The Olympic Games are easily identifiable through its official symbol of five interlocking rings. These are referred to as the Olympic Rings and they have remained to be the most popular and the most widely known symbol associated with the Olympic Games.
What do the Olympic Rings signify?
The Olympic Rings have a long history, dating back to more than a hundred years. It was in the year 1912 that the Olympic Rings were first designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat and intellectual. Coubertin is considered as one of the co-founders of modern Olympic Games. It was Coubertin who had proposed the idea of launching the modern version of Olympic Games in 1889. Once the idea was accepted, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was subsequently formed. The first Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
The Olympic Games continued every four years, but it was only in 1912 Stockholm Games that athletes from all five inhabited continents took part. This provided Coubertin the inspiration to design a new symbol for the Olympic Games. He thought about using five interlocking rings to represent the Olympic Games. It proved to be a wonderful idea, as it effectively captured the true essence of Olympic Games. The symbol of five interlocking rings was also accepted by members of IOC and other stakeholders. The symbol was used for the first time in 1914 as the official emblem of IOC during its 20th anniversary celebrations. In 1915, the symbol of the five interlocking rings was incorporated as the official symbol of Olympic Games.
According to Coubertin, the five interlocking rings – blue, yellow, black, green and red – represent the five continents – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. However, Coubertin did not provide any details regarding which colored ring represented which continent. The colors of the rings also represented the colors used in the flags of the countries that participated in the Olympic Games.
Usage of Olympic Rings
The IOC has strict rules regarding the use of Olympic Rings. For example, the rings can only take up to one-third of the space in any Olympic emblem. The rings have to be visible in their entirety and there should not be any cropping or alteration of the rings. The order of the colored rings cannot be altered and it has to be in the approved format – blue, black and red rings at the top and yellow and green rings at the bottom. There are several other guidelines that need to be followed by all entities that are officially using the Olympic Rings symbol.