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Fans are only starting to realise what the Olympic rings stand for as the Beijing Winter Games get underway.
The Olympic symbol, known throughout the world as the Olympic Rings, is the logo designed by Pierre de Coubertin to encapsulate the spirit of the Games.
The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions in one or in five different colours: blue, yellow, black, green and red.
According to the 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.
However, it is actually incorrect to suggest the rings each stand for an individual continent.
When de Coubertin created the Rings in 1913, the five colours were designed to combine with the white background represented the colours of the flags of all nations at that time without exception.
The Frenchman conceptualised a symbol that would be as universal as possible, and his design of five interlaced rings was allegedly inspired by the logo of the Union of French Athletic Sports Societies (USFSA), an organisation where he had served as Secretary General in the 1890s.
Born from the merger of two sports clubs, the USFSA created a badge depicting two interlaced rings.
What did you think the Olympic Rings stood for? Let us know in the comments section.
The Olympic Rings officially stand for the five continents and all nations united by the Games, as said by de Coubertin.
"The emblem chosen to showcase and represent the 1914 World Congress is the final step in the Olympic revival. It has begun to appear on various preliminary documents," he stated.
"Five equal, interlocking rings coloured blue, yellow, black, green and red stand out against a white background. Moreover, these six colours can be combined to represent all national colours, without exception: Sweden's blue and yellow; Greece's blue and white; the tricolours of France, Great Britain, America, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Hungary.
"Spain's yellow and red stand alongside newer nations like Brazil and Australia, as well as ancient Japan and young China."
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The Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ – Latin for ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ – was proposed to de Coubertin by Dominican priest Henri Didon.
This was used at the founding Congress of the International Olympic Committee, which called for the re-establishment of the Games on 23 June 1894.
Before the logo was designed, de Coubertin had created an emblem showcasing an open crown made up of olive branches, reminiscent of the prizes awarded to athletes during the ancient Games.
This symbol appeared on the official letterhead.
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