Most residents of our country know that one of the main attributes of the Olympic Games is the flag, which depicts colored rings in a specific order. But few can answer questions about the meaning of the Olympic rings, their history, and other facts related to the symbolism of the main sporting event in the world.
For a detailed analysis of the presented topic, it is necessary, first and foremost, to study the history of the creation of the Olympic rings, as well as to understand why, throughout their existence, despite the relatively simple image of the considered symbolism, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has not changed the existing emblem. After all, the rings remind us of the main world sporting event, simply because we have seen the flag with the multicolored rings at the Olympics since childhood.
If you look at this symbolism objectively, disregarding the perception of it that has formed over the course of our entire lives, it will be difficult to guess that this is one of the main attributes of the Olympic Games.
From the history of the creation of the main symbol of the Olympics
In the distant year of 1914, the founder of the modern Olympic Games (Pierre de Coubertin) presented a white flag with multicolored rings at the IOC Congress in Paris. Coubertin proposed to use this flag as the main symbol of the Olympic Games.
The participants of the congress approved the given idea and decided to use the presented emblem in 1916, but the First World War intervened, so the flag with colored rings debuted only in the 20th year of the last century at the Olympic Games in Belgium.
The question of authorship of the presented symbolism has several possible answers:
- On the World Wide Web, there is a statement that the creator of the Olympic rings is the Greek Angelo Bolanki (but even the authors of this version do not give a 100% guarantee of its reliability).
- Supporters of the third version believe that the author of the Olympic rings was the world-famous psychologist Carl Jung, who used ancient Chinese philosophy to create the legendary Olympic symbol.
- The Olympic rings on a white background were invented in 1912 by the “father” of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin (other sources claim that he only supervised a group of creators of sports symbolism, performing administrative work). It is worth noting that according to all the above versions,
- The Olympic rings were created in 2012, and the white flag came to us from ancient Greece (as a symbol of peace and goodness).
The meaning of each Olympic ring: several versions.
Prior to 1951, it was believed that the meaning of the Olympic rings’ colors corresponded to a specific continent whose inhabitants participated in the Olympic Games:
- the blue ring (the first ring in the top row) represented Europe;
- the black ring (the second ring in the top row) represented Africa;
- the red ring (the third ring in the top row) represented America;
- the yellow ring in the bottom row represented Asia;
- the green ring in the bottom row represented Australia.
But starting from the middle of the last century, to avoid providing grounds for accusations of racial discrimination, the theory behind the Olympic rings’ colors representing different continents has gradually been abandoned.
Another interpretation of the Olympic rings’ meaning is based on the idea that in the flag of any country participating in the sporting events, at least one of the six colors used in the symbol (five rings plus the white background of the canvas) can be found.
Carl Jung also had a role in the interpretation, as he was interested in ancient Chinese philosophy and knew that according to this doctrine, rings were associated with life energy and power, and the world was governed by metal, wood, earth, fire, and water. Jung assigned each energy to a ring and parallelly “attached” to each color of the Olympic ring a specific type of sport:
• Blue – swimming.
• Black – shooting.
• Red – fencing.
• Yellow – running.
• Green – jumping.
Despite differing views on the meaning of the Olympic rings, they all come down to the fact that sports are a great way to determine the strongest through fair competition, without death, grief, and hatred.
How one of the main symbols has changed over time
It is difficult to imagine that the Olympic rings have never changed their appearance since 1912. The first significant change occurred in 1936 at the Olympics held in Nazi Germany. At that time, all the rings were placed in a single row, but the first, third, and fifth rings were positioned slightly higher than the others (to make the symbol resemble its original form). The second difference was that an eagle was drawn above the rings, and all the elements of this symbol were drawn using black and white paint.
At the Olympics in Italy (1960), one of the main symbols of the Olympic Games was made three-dimensional, and the rings themselves were placed under the she-wolf (who, according to legend, nursed Romulus and Remus – the founders of Rome). If you follow all the subsequent Olympics, you can conclude that every country where the sporting events took place tried to introduce their own original elements to highlight the main symbol of the Olympic Games.
But despite the small changes, which none of the organizers of the sporting events pay much attention to, the International Olympic Committee strictly monitors the main attributes of the Olympic Games (flag, anthem, medals, etc.). All emblems must have rings of the same size arranged in a strictly regulated order. It is strictly forbidden to change the color of the rings or rearrange them, violating the established sequence. The use of the main world symbols of sports games for commercial purposes is also not allowed.
Based on the above information, it can be concluded that it is unreasonable to change the appearance of the Olympic symbol, which has existed for over a hundred years at least. Even people who are not interested in sports are familiar with the colorful rings of the Olympic Games, which have become not only a sporting attribute but also a symbol of friendship, peace, and mutual understanding during their existence.