Olympic Facts

March 26, 2008

Olympic Facts

USA 5-Rings

USA 5-Rings is the symbol that represents the United States Olympic Team. America’s top athletes wear the logo proudly as they represent the USA at the Olympic Games. The logo is made up of the letters “USA,” the common abbreviation for the United States of America, and the Olympic Rings logo. The United States of America has been competing in the Olympic Games since 1896, the beginning of the modern Olympic Games.

Olympic Rings
The Olympic Rings were created by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1913 and first displayed on the Olympic Flag in 1920. The Olympic symbol of five interlocked rings represents the five original continents:Africa, America (North & South), Asia, Australia, Europe and the meeting of the athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

The five colors of the rings blue, black and red (top) and yellow and green (bottom) were chosen since one of these colors can be found in the flag of each competing nation. Creed
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”-The words of the Olympic creed are attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

The Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Braver,” but is universally accepted to mean “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”

The Olympic oath is a symbolic gesture of sportsmanship that traces its origins to the 1920 Olympic Games. One athlete from the host country takes the oath at Opening Ceremonies on behalf of all the athletes.Oath: “In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

Victory Ceremony
The greatest honor for an Olympic athlete is to particpate in a Victory Cermony. At the conclusion of each competition, the top three athletes are placed on a podium (see below) as medals are presented to the first, second and third-place finishers. The winner stands in the middle at the highest elevation; the runner-up stands slightly below to the victor’s right; and the third-place finisher stands at the lowest elevation to the left of the victor.In addition, each athlete’s flag is placed in the same fashion on beams and upon being raised the winner’s anthem is played.


The medals - gold, silver, and bronze - represent the highest levels of athletic achievement at the Games. The design of the medal varies with each Olympic Games and they are the responsibility of the host city’s organizing committee. Olympic medals must be at least 60 millimeters in diameter and at least three millimeters thick. Gold and silver medals must be made of 92.5 percent pure silver; the gold medal must be gilded with at least six grams of gold.

Torch & Flame
One of the most enduring symbols of the Olympic Games is the Olympic flame. The flame made its first appearance at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and since then the lighting of the flame has become a major focal point of every Opening Ceremonies. The concept of lighting a flame for the duration of the Games comes from the ancient Greeks, who used a flame lit by the sun’s rays at Olympia - the site of the original Olympic Games. Olympic Hymn
The Olympic Hymn is played when the Olympic Flag is raised. The music was composed by Spirou Samara. The words were added by Costic of Greece in 1896.Ancient Immortal Spirit, chaste Father
Of all that is Beauty, Grandeur and Truth
Descending appear with Thy presence
Illuminate Thine Earth and the Heavens.Shine upon noble endeavors wrought
at the Games on Track and in the Field.
Crown with thy eternal evergreen branch
The bodies, making them stronger and worthy.Dale, Mount and Ocean, with Thy Light,
Is a white a purple temple, brighten!
To thine Temple, to Thy Worship, come all.
Oh! Ancient Eternal Spirit!

Olympic Games mascots are selected by the local organizing committee of the host city. The first official Olympic mascot dates back to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich with Waldi the dachshund, a popular Bavarian dog.In the United States, previous mascots have included Roni the raccoon at the 1980 Lake Placid Games, Sam the eagle at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, and Izzy the animated character at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games mascots were Powder, the snowshoe hare; Copper, the coyote; and Coal, the American black bear.In 1994, the Lillehammer Organizing Committee was the first organization to base their mascots on historical human figures naming Hakon and Kristine after royal children from the 13th century. Nagano featured four √ésnowlets’ based on the motif of an owl. Most recently, Sydney’s mascots were: Millie, the spiny anteater; Syd, the duck-billed platypus; and Olly, the kookaburra bird.


The term “Olympiad” refers to the four year interval between the Olympic Games, which was first used by the ancient Greeks in reckoning dates. The Olympiads are numbered consecutively from the first Olympic Games (or The I Olympiad), held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Even the Games cancelled by the wars of 1916, 1940 and 1944 are counted. Most recently held were The Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. The XXVIII Olympiad will mark a return to Athens, Greece in 2004. However, the term Olympiad is not used in conjunction with the Olympic Winter Games, which are numbered only when they are actually held.

The U.S. Olympic Committee refers to the Olympiad, same four-year cycle, as the “quadrennium.” On January 1, 2004, the USOC will enter the 2004-2008 quadrennium.