In 1913, Baron Pierre de Coubertin came up
with the idea for the symbol most closely associated with the Olympics, the Olympic Rings.
Every rings stands for one of the five continents. Although there are seven continents,
Antarctica is excluded and North America and South America are considered one. The
connection of the rings symbolizes the connection of the continents during the Games and
the ideal of peace and brotherhood of the whole planet. The flag was first flown at the
1920 Olympic Games in Belgium. After each Olympics the flag is passed on to the new host
city, where it is kept safe until it is flown, during the Olympics. The original Olympic
flag was used until 1984, when Seoul presented a new flag to the IOC, made of Korean silk.
Poster from the 1920 Olympics, when the Olympic flag was first flown.
Beginning in 1934, the IOC (International
Olympic Committee) introduced the Olympic flame with the idea that it would enrich the
games. The torch-relay, starting with the flame lighting at ancient Olympia and arriving
at the hosting city, would be a strong link between the ancient Olympic sites and the
modern Olympic cities. The flame symbolizes the purity which embodies the eternal youth of
the Olympic philosophy. The universal symbol of the flame would lead all competitors to
understand that it is necessary to work towards the lasting unity of mankind.