Olympic Rings

We explain what the Olympic rings are, what they mean and how they originated. In addition, we tell you the myth of the Olympic stone.

olympic rings sport
The Olympic rings are present on the Olympic flag and are a symbol of the Olympics.

What are the Olympic rings?

olympic rings or olympic hoops are the main symbol of the International Olympic Games, the most important international sporting event in the contemporary world. It consists of five circles of different colors: blue, yellow, black, red and green, arranged in that order and intertwined each one with the next, all arranged on a white background.

These rings are present on the Olympic flag and, together with the Olympic flame and the Olympic creed, constitute the universal symbols of the Olympics: an event in which athletes from all over the world gather every four years to compete in different disciplines and formats.

The five colors of the Olympic rings represent the colors common to all the flags of the world, that is, any existing flag contains any of these colors. In this way, the rings represent unity, brotherhood and communion among nations, which are essential Olympic values.

The Olympic rings appear on Olympic medals, Olympic posters and advertisements, souvenirs, stamp collecting and everything associated with this great sporting event.

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Origin and history of the Olympic rings

olympic rings origin pierre coubertin sport
Pierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic rings based on the colors of the flags.

The symbol of the Olympic rings It was created at the beginning of the 20th century by Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), one of the founders of the Olympic movement, inspired by the emblem of the Union of French athletic sports societies (Union of French Athletic Sports Societies) and in the classic representations of marriage, in which two intertwined rings are shown.

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De Coubertin himself explained in an interview in 1913 that the selection of colors came from the flags of the participating nations at the time (Germany, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Spain, the United States, France, Greece, Hungary, England, Japan, Italy, Sweden), but which had finally formed “a truly international emblem”, since all the flags of the world have at least one of these colors.

The myth of the “Olympic stone”

there is also a myth that supposes the origin of the symbol in a stone discovered in archaeological sites of Delphi, Greecewhere the Pythian Games were held in honor of Apollo in Antiquity.

this version is fake and it is due to the fact that, in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, Carl Diem, president of the organizing committee, ordered the manufacture of a stone with this Olympic symbol printed on all four sides and its installation in Greece. From there, three runners with the Olympic torch of that year left for the German capital, in a gesture that linked the ancient and modern Olympic tradition.

But the organizers forgot to remove the stone at the end of the Olympics, and in the late 1950s two British writers took it for granted, stating in a book on the history of the modern Olympics that the emblem had been created in ancient times. This mistake is known as “Carl Diem’s ​​stone”.

Other symbols of the International Olympic Games

olympic rings symbols torch sport
The Olympic torch commemorates the theft of fire from the gods by Prometheus.

In addition to the Olympic rings, the Olympics have two important symbols:

  • the olympic flag. It consists of a white box with a 2:3 ratio, on which the five Olympic rings appear. It is hoisted in all the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games from 1920 to the present.
  • the olympic torch. It consists of a torch that is lit at the beginning of the Olympic Games, in a tradition inherited from Greek Antiquity. It commemorates the theft of fire from the gods by Prometheus, in Greek mythology, and the delivery of it to humanity. It has been used in every edition of the Olympics since 1928.
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  • “Olympic Rings” on Wikipedia.
  • “The origin and meaning of the Olympic rings” in El Sol de México.
  • “What is the meaning of the Olympic rings?” in International Olympic Committee.
  • “What do the Olympic Rings and Flame Represent?” In The Encyclopaedia Britannica.