Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.
OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: The rings of the Olympic flag were meant to stand for the five continents of Earth.
If you look in the Olympic charter, the explanation given for the five interlocking rings of the Olympic flag is that they represent (among other things, like passion, faith, victory, work ethic, and sportsmanship) the five continents of Earth.
For there to be only five continents, Antarctica is omitted and North and South America are counted as one continent.
So it would be the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Is this really what the rings were meant to represent?
In a word, no.
Originally, Pierre de Coubertin, president of the International Olympic Committee, intended the rings to represent (along with passion, faith, victory, work ethic, and sportsmanship) the five Olympics that had been held at that point (1913). His idea was that for every Olympic held, a ring would be added, until the flag was a giant mix of rings standing as a symbol of peace and unity among the world.
However, the next Olympics, the 1916 one, was canceled due to World War I, so by the time the Olympics had picked up again, the five rings had become pretty much set in stone, and the new (and current) reasoning behind the rings were decided upon.
The legend is…
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