Nov 14, 2012

Olympic flag

The Olympic flag is a cultural icon, seen in almost everything related to sports and competitiveness. The flag is shrouded in myths, and I probably couldn't remember all of them, but I'll try to clarify the most famous. It's used since the seventh modern Olympic Games (Antwerp, 1920), although it is some years early (remembering that 1916 Olympics didn't occur). Its creator is Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of modern Olympics. It's the flag:

The five rings represent more probably the five continents. The position and color of each meaning is defined.

OK, coming to the myth #1: each color represents one continent. The answer is: depends... Although  it isn't the original meaning, it appears in the Olympic official handbook. There's even an official explanation to the colors: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Oceania and red for Americas.

Myth #2: the rings are based in ancient symbols found in Delphi. Absolute myth, but there's a funny explanation to it! Before the 1936 Olympic games, the torch passed in Delphi. To commemorate the occasion, a milestone was constructed and put on the Delphi ruins. It was never removed, until two British historians found it in 1950, creating a great confusion.

So let me tell what's almost certain about the origin of Olympic symbols. The rings are inspired by the logo of USFSA (the French Olympic representative), where Pierre de Coubertin took part and could easily borrow the symbol. About the colors (including white background), they came from the national flags of each country that competed on that time. See a quote by Baron de Coubertin, in 1912:
...the six colours [including the flag’s white background] thus combined reproduce the colours of all the nations, with no exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the tri- colours of France, England and America, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, the yellow and red of Spain next to the novelties of Brazil or Australia, with old Japan and new China. Here is truly an international symbol.
Would he joke? The "color-for-continents" theory isn't truth, so you can't absolutely say "yes" or "no".

This is it. I hope you liked the text. Please, leave your comment (positive, neutral or negative).

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