The Rings of Color

By | Feb 20, 2010

Ever wonder why there are five rings, each of a different color on w white background in the Olympic Flag? Pierre baron de Coubertin, who was the Olympic Committee President form 1896 to 1925 said upon its introduction that the five rings represented each of the five “the five parts of the world won over to Olympism and willing to accept healthy competition.” The six colors, blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white background represented the colors found in the flags of the nations that existed at that time.

This was in the middle of the 1910’s. The first games that the flag was debuted in 1920 at the Games of the VII Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium.

At the Closing Ceremony, traditionally, the flag is passed from the mayor of one host city to the next host. This however didn’t happen after its first use in 1920. That flag was lost and a replacement was made.

What happened to that original flag? That was discovered in 1997. Hal Haig Prieste who had won a bronze medal in platform diving as a member of the 1920 US Olympic team was being interviewed when a reporter mentioned that the IOC had not been able to find out what had happened to the original Olympic flag. It was then that he came clean and told that after the Antwerp Games he had climbed the flag pole and took the flag. In 2000 at the Sydney Games Prieste the flag was returned to the IOC by Prieste, by then 103 years old. The Antwerp Flag is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a plaque thanking him for donating it.

The Flag used in Paris in 1924 was used until it was retired from service in 1988 at the the Seoul games. It was used for both the Summer and Winter games until 1952 when it was decided to have an official flag for each. Both of these are still in use.

When the flag is lowered at the closing ceremony, it signals the end of the Games.


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