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International Olympic Committee / Comité International Olympique

IOC / CIO ; Olympic Games / Jeux Olympiques

Last modified: 2005-12-24 by juan manuel gabino villascán
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[The Olympic flag]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán
Flag adopted: 1914.

The Olympic flag was designed in 1913 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin as a flag for the Olympic Congress in Paris 1914 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Olympic Movement. At the congress the flag was adopted as the flag for the Olympic Movement.

International Olympic Committee Website, July 2000
Flagmaster 84 [flm], Autumn 1996


See also:

Other site:

Description of the flag

According to the Olympic Charter the design and proportions of the Olympic flag are those of the flag presented by Pierre de Coubertin at the Paris Congress in 1914.
On a white field without borders, five rings in blue, yellow, black, green, and red interlaced from left to right forming a trapezium with the blue, black and red rings are at the top and the yellow and green rings at the bottom. The proportions of the original flag were 2 x 3m and the rings occupied an area of 0.6 x 2.2m.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. Among these are the Antwerp and Seoul flags, which have a fringe of the six colours around the white field.

Flagmaster 84 [flm], Autumn 1996
Olympic Charter - International Olympic Committee, 12 December 1999

Cermonial Olympic flag

[Ceremonial Olympic flag]
by Zachary Harden and Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, July, 2005.

[Ceremonial Olympic flag photo]
From JSonline
Posted by Zachary Harden, August 6, 2004.
Click the image to enlarge

Origin and Meaning of the Olympic flag

Pierre de Coubertin is said to have found the original Olympic symbol engraved on an altar-stone unearthed at Delphi. It has been used at least since Athens 1906 to symbolize the five Olympic continents.
When Pierre de Coubertin in 1913 designed a flag for the 1914 Paris Congress of the Olympic Movement, celebrating the movements twentieth anniversary, naturally he chose the Olympic symbol. For the colours he decided to use the colours of the flags of all countries that were part of the Olympic Movement, six colours in all: White for the cloth and Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Black for the rings. The congress was so taken with this design that it adopted it as the flag for the Olympic Movement.
As can be read in the Olympic Charter, the Olympic symbol represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. However, no continent is represented by any specific ring. Though colourful explanations about the symbolism of the coloured rings exist, the only connection between the rings and the continents is that the number five refers to the number of continents. Any other relation must be a post-facto interpretation.

Herman De Wael, 15 April 1999
Flagmaster 84 [flm], Autumn 1996
Pascal Vagnat, 11 December 1998

The text above contains a passage that needs to be corrected. It is written that "Pierre de Coubertin is said to have found the original Olympic symbol engraved on an altarstone unearthed at Delphi." Apparently a number of publications on the Olympic games and movement contain similar claims, sometimes accompanied by photographs of the "evidence", a stone with the five rings carved into it.

An article by Robert Knight Barney called 'This Great Symbol: The Tricks of History' and published in Olympic Review (No. 301, 1992 pp. 627-631, 641), sets the record straight concerning the supposed antique origins of the famous Olympic rings. Barney points out that the stones in question, which may still be seen at Delphi, were in fact manufactured for a ceremony which formed part of the torch relay from Greece to Germany for the 1936 games. The stones were since left at various locations at Delphi, causing later visitors to mistake the stones with the rings for genuine antique artefacts.

In the same article Barney also presents new views on the origins of the Olympic emblem. Barney explains that the likely inspiration for the interlocked rings lies in the symbol of the French sports federation USFSA - Union des sociétés françaises des sports athlétiques. The USFSA used an emblem consisting of two interlocking rings, reflecting that the USFSA was born through the merger of two previously independent associations. de Coubertain was president of the USFSA. Barney states that the symbol with the two rings is known to have been used on uniforms "at least as early as 1893." When the time came to make an emblem for the Olympic movement, the 20th anniversary of the Olympic movement in 1914, the symbol of the USFSA served as model: "It seems quite obvious, therefore, that Coubertin's affiliation with the USFSA led him to think in terms of interlocked rings or circles when he applied his mind towards conceiving a logo for his commemorative conference of 1914, indeed, a ringlogo that would symbolize his Olympic Movement's success up to that point in time, just as the interlocking of two rings had signified the successful marriage of two distinct societies into one, the USFSA. Circles, after all, connote wholeness (as we are told by the psychologist Karl Jung), the interlocking of them, continuity." (p. 629). In Barney's judgement the five rings of the Olympic emblem "connoted the successful accomplishment of history's first five Modern Olympic Games, and that the ring colours exemplify hues represented in the flags of each of the countries participating in the Games of the Olympiads I, II, III, IV, and V." (p. 631).

Jan Oskar Engene, 13 January 2002.

The host's and Greek flag at Olympic ceremonies

At the end of each games, the flag of Greece is raised first, no matter if it is summer or winter, to show the location of the first modern games. The first modern games was held in 1896 at Athens, Greece. The second flag flown is that of the host country of the games. The last flag is the host country of the next games of that same season.
The flags at Syndey were at this order: Greece, Australia, Greece. When the Greek anthem was sung, both Greek flags were raised at the same time in order not to offend the Aussies, and the Aussie anthem came last.
This time at Salt Lake City, it will be Greece, United States, and Italy. Italy will be hosting the games in 2006 in the city of Turin.
Zachary Harden, 26 January 2002.

Illegal Olympic flag?

[The Olympic flag as hoisted in some McDonald's locations]
by Mark Sensen and Thorsten, October 2, 2004.

Some McDonald's locations in the U.S. fly an Olympic flag with the words "OFFICIAL RESTAURANT". The rings in these flags extend almost all the way to the edges, according the image above.
Thorsten, October 2, 2004.

The flag was also used at McDonald's Canada locations during the games. I never got a good enough look to read the wording, it may have been the same as the U.S., or perhaps dans tous les deux langues officielles in the two official languages, e.g. French and English. It looked like there was more writing than just "OFFICIAL RESTAURANT".
Dean McGee, October 3, 2004.

I believe that the rule is valid for all cases and probably the restaurants are in breach of the agreement with the IOC - but then again, it may well be that IOC allowed the issue even against its regulation, for certain amount of financial support.

See the rule 7, 8, 9, and 12 of the Olympic Charter...

There is a number of other interesting reference to the flag and symbols (and flag related ceremonies etc.) in the Charter.

Click here to read the full text of the Olympic Charter.
This is a 350 KB large-PDF file.

Željko Heimer, October 3, 2004.

National Olympic Committees

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z |

Names and codes from International Olympic Committee

AFGHANISTAN                                     AFG	1948	1933	ASIA
ALBANIA                                         ALB	1932	1930	EUROPA
ALGERIA                                         ALG	1963	1962	AFRICA
AMERICAN SAMOA                                  ASA	1998	1984	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
ANDORRA                                         AND	1996	1994	EUROPA
ANGOLA                                          ANT	1980	1979	AFRICA
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA                             ATG	1970	1928	THE AMERICAS
ARGENTINA                                       ARG	1912	1893	CONMEBOL
ARMENIA                                         ARM	1992	1992	EUROPA
ARUBA                                           ARU	1988	1932	THE AMERICAS
AUSTRALIA                                       AUS	1963	1961	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
AUSTRIA                                         AUT	1907	1904	EUROPA
AZERBAIJAN                                      AZE	1994	1992	EUROPA
BAHAMAS                                         BAH	1968	1967	THE AMERICAS
BAHRAIN                                         BRN	1966	1957	ASIA
BANGLADESH                                      BGD	1974	1972	ASIA
BARBADOS                                        BRB	1968	1910	THE AMERICAS
BELARUS                                         BLR	1992	1989	EUROPA
BELGIUM                                         BEL	1904	1895	EUROPA
BELIZE                                          BIZ	1986	1980	THE AMERICAS
BENIN                                           BEN	1962	1962	AFRICA
BERMUDA                                         BER	1962	1928	THE AMERICAS
BHUTAN	                                        BHU	2000	1983	ASIA
BOLIVIA                                         BOL	1926	1925	CONMEBOL
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA                          BIH	1996	1992	EUROPA
BOTSWANA                                        BOT	1976	1970	AFRICA
BRAZIL                                          BRA	1923	1914	CONMEBOL
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS                          IVB	1996	1974	THE AMERICAS
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM                               BRU	1969	1959	ASIA
BULGARIA                                        BUL	1924	1923	EUROPA
BURKINA FASO                                    BUR	1964	1960	AFRICA
BURUNDI                                         BDI	1972	1948	AFRICA
CAMBODIA                                        CAM	1953	1933	ASIA
CAMEROON                                        CMR	1962	1959	AFRICA
CANADA                                          CAN	1912	1912	THE AMERICAS
CAPE VERDE                                      CPV	1986	1982	AFRICA
CAYMAN ISLANDS                                  CAY	1992	1966	THE AMERICAS
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC                        CTA	1963	1961	AFRICA
CHAD                                            CHA	1988	1962	AFRICA			
CHILE                                           CHI	1912	1895	CONMEBOL
CHINESE TAIPEI                                  TPE	1954	1924	ASIA
COLOMBIA                                        COL	1936	1924	CONMEBOL
COMOROS					    	COM	2005	1979	AFRICA
CONGO                                           CGO	1962	1962	AFRICA
CONGO DR                                        COD	1962	1919	AFRICA
COOK ISLANDS                                    COK	1994	1971	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
COSTA RICA                                      CRC	1927	1921	THE AMERICAS
COTE D'IVOIRE                                   CIV	1960	1960	AFRICA
CROATIA                                         CRO	1941/92	1912	EUROPA
CUBA                                            CUB	1932	1924	THE AMERICAS
CYPRUS                                          CYP	1948	1934	EUROPA
CZECH REPUBLIC                                  CZE	1907/94	1901	EUROPA
DENMARK                                         DEN	1904	1889	EUROPA
DJIBOUTI                                        DJI	1994	1979	AFRICA
DOMINICA                                        DMA	1994	1970	THE AMERICAS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC                              DOM	1958	1953	THE AMERICAS
ECUADOR                                         ECU	1926	1925	CONMEBOL
EGYPT                                           EGY	1923	1921	AFRICA
EL SALVADOR                                     ESA	1938	1935	THE AMERICAS
EQUATORIAL GUINEA                               GEQ	1986	1960	AFRICA
ERITREA                                         ERI	1998	1996	AFRICA
ESTONIA                                         EST	1923/92	1921	EUROPA
ETHIOPIA                                        ETH	1953	1943	AFRICA
FAROE ISLANDS                                   FRO	1988	1979	EUROPA
FIJI                                            FIJ	1963	1938	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
FINLAND                                         FIN	1908	1907	EUROPA
FRANCE                                          FRA	1904	1919	EUROPA
GABON                                           GAB	1963	1962	AFRICA
GAMBIA                                          GAM	1966	1952	AFRICA
GEORGIA                                         GEO	1992	1990	EUROPA
GERMANY                                         GER	1904	1900	EUROPA
GHANA                                           GHA	1958	1957	AFRICA
GREAT BRITAIN                               	GBR	1910	1876	EUROPA
GREECE                                          GRE	1927	1926	EUROPA
GRENADA                                         GRN	1976	1924	THE AMERICAS
GUAM                                            GUM	1996	1975	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
GUATEMALA                                       GUA	1946	1919	THE AMERICAS
GUINEA                                          GUI	1960	1960	AFRICA
GUINEA-BISSAU                                   GBS	1986	1974	AFRICA
GUYANA                                          GUY	1968	1902	THE AMERICAS
HAITI                                           HAI	1933	1904	THE AMERICAS
HONDURAS                                        HON	1951	1951	THE AMERICAS
HONG KONG, CHINA                                HKG	1954	1914	ASIA
HUNGARY                                         HUN	1906	1901	EUROPA
ICELAND                                         ISL	1947	1947	EUROPA
INDIA                                           IND	1948	1937	ASIA
INDONESIA                                       INA	1952	1930	ASIA
IRAQ                                            IRQ	1950	1948	ASIA
IRELAND			                      	IRL	1923	1921	EUROPA
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN                        IRI	1945	1920	ASIA
ISRAEL                                          ISR	1948	1928/48	EUROPA
ITALY                                           ITA	1905	1898	EUROPA
JAMAICA                                         JAM	1962	1910	THE AMERICAS
JAPAN                                           JPN	1929	1921	ASIA
JORDAN                                          JOR	1958	1949	ASIA
KAZAKHSTAN                                      KAZ	1994	1914	EUROPA
KENYA                                           KEN	1960	1960	AFRICA
KIRIBATI                             		KIR			OCEANIA (PACIFIC)
KOREA                                           KOR	1948	1928	ASIA
KUWAIT                                          KUW	1962	1952	ASIA
KYRGYZSTAN                                      KGZ	1994	1992	ASIA
LATVIA                                          LAT	1992/92	1921	EUROPA
LEBANON                                         LIB	1935	1933	ASIA
LESOTHO                                         LES	1964	1932	AFRICA
LIBERIA                                         LBR	1962	1936	AFRICA
LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA                          LBA	1963	1962	AFRICA
LIECHTENSTEIN                                   LIE	1974	1934	EUROPA
LITHUANIA                                       LTU	1923/92	1922	EUROPA
LUXEMBOURG                                      LUX	1910	1908	EUROPA
MADAGASCAR                                      MAD	1962	1961	AFRICA
MALAWI                                          MAW	1967	1966	AFRICA
MALAYSIA                                        MAS	1956	1933	ASIA
MALDIVES                                        MDV	1986	1982	ASIA
MALI                                            MLI	1962	1960	AFRICA
MALTA                                           MLT	1959	1900	EUROPA
MAURITANIA                                      MTN	1964	1961	AFRICA
MAURITIUS                                       MRI	1962	1952	AFRICA
MEXICO                                          MEX	1929	1927	THE AMERICAS
REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA                             MDA	1994	1990	EUROPA
MONACO                                          MON			EUROPE
MONGOLIA                                        MGL	1998	1959	ASIA
MOROCCO                                         MAR	1956	1955	AFRICA
MOZAMBIQUE                                      MOZ	1980	1975	AFRICA
MYANMAR                                         MYA	1957	1947	ASIA
NAMIBIA                                         NAM	1992	1990	AFRICA
NAURU                             		NRU			OCEANIA
NEPAL                                           NEP	1970	1951	ASIA
NETHERLANDS                                     NED	1904	1889	EUROPA
NETHERLANDS ANTILLES                            AHO	1932	1921	THE AMERICAS
NEW ZEALAND                                     NZL	1948	1891	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
NICARAGUA                                       NCA	1950	1931	THE AMERICAS
NIGER                                           NIG	1967	1967	AFRICA
NIGERIA                                         NGR	1959	1945	AFRICA
NORWAY                                          NOR	1908	1902	EUROPA
OMAN                                            OMA	1980	1978	ASIA
PAKISTAN                                        PAK	1948	1948	ASIA
PALAU                                           PLW 			OCEANIA (PACIFIC)
PALESTINE                                       PLE	1998	1928/62	ASIA
PANAMA                                          PAN	1938	1937	THE AMERICAS
PAPUA NEW GUINEA                                PNG	1963	1962	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
PARAGUAY                                        PAR	1921	1906	CONMEBOL
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA                      CHN	1931	1924	ASIA
PERU                                            PER	1924	1922	CONMEBOL
PHILIPPINES                                     PHI	1928	1907	ASIA
POLAND                                          POL	1923	1919	EUROPA
PORTUGAL                                        POR	1923	1914	EUROPA
PUERTO RICO                                     PUR	1960	1940	THE AMERICAS
QATAR                                           QAT	1970	1960	ASIA
ROMANIA                                         ROM	1922	1909	EUROPA
RUSSIAN FEDERATION                              RUS	1912/92	1912	EUROPA
RWANDA                                          RWA	1976	1972	AFRICA
SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS                           SKN	1992	1932	THE AMERICAS
SAINT LUCIA                                     LCA	1988	1979	THE AMERICAS
SAMOA                                           SAM	1986	1968	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
SAN MARINO                                      SMR	1988	1931	EUROPA
SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE                           STP	1986	1975	AFRICA
SAUDI ARABIA                                    KSA	1959	1959	ASIA
SENEGAL                                         SEN	1962	1960	AFRICA
SERBIA AND MOTENEGRO                            SCG	1919	1919	EUROPA
SEYCHELLES                                      SEY	1986	1979	AFRICA
SIERRA LEONE                                    SLE	1967	1967	AFRICA
SINGAPORE                                       SIN	1952	1892	ASIA
SLOVAKIA					SVK	1907/94	1993	EUROPA
SLOVENIA                                        SLO	1992	1920	EUROPA
SOLOMON ISLANDS                                 SOL	1988	1978	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
SOMALIA                                         SOM	1960	1951	AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA                                    RSA	1992	1991	AFRICA
SPAIN                                           ESP	1904	1913	EUROPA
SRI LANKA                                       SRI	1950	1939	ASIA
SUDAN                                           SUD	1948	1936	AFRICA
SURINAME                                        SUR	1929	1920	THE AMERICAS
SWAZILAND                                       SWZ	1978	1968	AFRICA
SWEDEN                                          SWE	1904	1904	EUROPA
SWITZERLAND                                     SUI	1904	1895	EUROPA
SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC                            SYR	1937	1936	ASIA
TAIWAN, REPUBLIC OF CHINA                               SEE: CHINESE TAIPEI
TAJIKISTAN                                      TJK	1994	1936	ASIA
UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA                     TAN	1964	1930	AFRICA
THAILAND                                        THA	1925	1916	ASIA
TIMOR-LESTE					TLS	2005	2002	ASIA
TOGO                                            TOG	1962	1960	AFRICA
TONGA                                           TGA	1994	1965	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO                             TRI	1963	1908	THE AMERICAS
TUNISIA                                         TUN	1960	1956	AFRICA
TURKEY                                          TUR	1923	1923	EUROPA
TURKMENISTAN                                    TKM	1994	1992	ASIA
UGANDA                                          UGA	1959	1924	AFRICA
UKRAINE                                         UKR	1992	1991	EUROPA
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES                            UAE	1972	1971	ASIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA                        USA	1914	1913	THE AMERICAS
URUGUAY                                         URU	1923	1900	CONMEBOL
UZBEKISTAN                                      UZB	1994	1946	ASIA
VANUATU                                         VAN	1988	1934	PACIFIC (OCEANIA)
VENEZUELA                                       VEN	1952	1926	CONMEBOL
VIET NAM                                        VIE	1964	1962	ASIA
VIRGIN ISLANDS			             	ISV	1998	1992	THE AMERICAS
YEMEN                                           YEM	1980	1962	ASIA
ZAMBIA                                          ZAM	1964	1929	AFRICA
ZIMBABWE                                        ZIM	1965	1965	AFRICA

COUNTRY                                                                 ZONE

HOLY SEE (VATICAN STATE)                            			EUROPE
MARSHAL ISLANDS                                      			OCEANIA
TUVALU                                       				OCEANIA