The Olympic symbol – widely known throughout the world as the Olympic rings – is the visual ambassador of olympism for billions of people.
Based on a design first created by Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic rings remain a global representation of the Olympic Movement and its activity.
“The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions (the Olympic rings), used alone, in one or in five different colours. When used in its five-colour version, these colours shall be, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The rings are interlaced from left to right; the blue, black and red rings are situated at the top, the yellow and green rings at the bottom in accordance with the following graphic reproduction.” (Olympic Charter, Rule 8)
“The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.” (Olympic Charter, Rule 8)
The Proud History of the Olympic Rings
1913 – Introduction of the Olympic rings
The Olympic rings were publicly presented for the first time in 1913. In the centre of a white background, five rings interlaced: blue, yellow, black, green and red.
1920 – The official Olympic Games debut of the Olympic rings
For the Olympic Games, the Olympic rings, set on the white background of the Olympic flag, made their first appearance at the Games of the VII Olympiad Antwerp 1920.
1957 – Definition of the Olympic Rings
In 1957, the IOC officially approved a specific version of the Olympic rings, differing only slightly from Coubertin’s original, in which the rings intersect each other.
1986 – GRAPHIC DESIGN AND THE OLYMPIC RINGS
Although spaces between the Olympic rings had already been seen in their visual presentation, in 1986 the IOC Graphics Standards included a description of how an official version of the Rings with spaces should be produced.
2010 – The Return to the Timeless Original Olympic Rings
As approved in 2010 by the IOC Executive Board, the official version of the Olympic rings returned to its original, seamlessly interlaced design, fulfilling Coubertin’s vision.
Today, there are seven official versions of the Olympic rings.
The full-colour version on its white background is the preferred version of the Olympic rings. Indeed, the full-colour Olympic rings are the embodiment of Pierre de Coubertin’s original vision; “full-colour” refers to the six Olympic colours – blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white background – which symbolise Olympism’s universality.
The monochrome Olympic rings provide an alternative to the full-colour Olympic rings. The Olympic rings may appear in any of the six official Olympic colours when necessary.
Link to Olympic properties
The Olympic rings are a cornerstone of the Olympic properties, which comprise a variety of assets: the Olympic symbol, flag, motto, anthem, identifications (including but not limited to “Olympic Games” and “Games of the Olympiad”), designations, emblems, flame and torches (…) may, for convenience, be collectively or individually referred to as “Olympic properties”.
Use and rights
All rights to the Olympic properties, as well as all rights to the use thereof, belong exclusively to the IOC, including but not limited to the use for any profit-making, commercial or advertising purposes.
The Olympic symbol and the Olympic properties must be used only with the express prior written consent of the IOC.
Guidelines are available to provide direction for the use of the Olympic symbol by the Olympic Movement and its authorised stakeholders. They aim to preserve the integrity and authority of the Olympic symbol while ensuring its visibility and inclusiveness.
For further information on the Olympic rings and the Olympic properties, please refer to the FAQ section on this site.