The Olympic flag – one of the most recognisable symbols of the Olympic Games – is celebrating its centenary this year. The flag was created for the Olympic Jubilee Congress in 1914 in Paris in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Olympic Movement.
The interlocking rings were first drawn by Pierre de Coubertin – the founder of the modern Olympic Games – on a letter in July 1913. Soon after, the rings made their debut on the first Olympic flag, which was raised in Alexandria’s Chatby stadium at a sporting event commemorating 20 years since the founding of the modern Olympic Games. That flag now hangs proudly in the newly renovated Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
© IOC Seoul 1988 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Coubertin later presented the rings and the flag at the Olympic Congress in Paris on 17 June 1914, where they were officially adopted by the IOC.
© IOC Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Due to the outbreak of the First World War, however, it was not until the 1920 Games in Antwerp that the flag and its five rings could be seen flying in an Olympic stadium for the first time.
© IOC Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games
The Olympic symbol representing the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games has gone on to become one of the most recognised symbols in the world and the symbolic passing of the Olympic flag from one host city to another has become a key tradition at the closing of the Games.
© IOC Innsbruck 1976 Olympic Winter Games