The motto was also the name of an Olympic history journal from 1992 to 1997, when it was renamed the Journal of Olympic History.
A more informal but well known motto, also introduced by De Coubertin, is "The most important thing is not to win but to take part!" De Coubertin got this motto from a sermon by the Bishop of Pennsylvania during the 1908 London Games.
The symbol of the Olympic Games is composed of five interlocking rings, coloured blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white field. This was originally designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. These five rings stand for passion, faith, victory, work ethic, and sportsmanship. Upon its initial introduction, de Coubertin stated the following in the August, 1912 edition of Revue Olympique:
In his article published in the "Olympic Revue" the official magazine of the International Olympic Committee in November 1992, the American historian Robert Barney explains that the idea of the interlaced rings came to Pierre de Coubertin when he was in charge of the USFSA, an association founded by the union of two French sports associations and until 1925, responsible for representing the International Olympic Committee in France: The emblem of the union was two interlaced rings (like the vesica piscis typical interlaced marriage rings) and originally the idea of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung because for him the ring meant continuity and the human being.
According to De Coubertin the ring colors stand for those colors that appeared on all the national flags of the world at that time.
The 1914 Congress had to be suspended due to the outbreak of World War I, but the symbol (and flag) were later adopted. They would first officially debut at the VIIth Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920.
The symbol's popularity and widespread use began during the lead-up to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Carl Diem, president of the Organizing Committee of the 1936 Summer Olympics, wanted to hold a torchbearers' ceremony in the stadium at Delphi, site of the famous oracle, where the Pythian Games were also held. For this reason he ordered construction of a milestone with the Olympic rings carved in the sides, and that a torchbearer should carry the flame along with an escort of three others from there to Berlin. The ceremony was celebrated but the stone was never removed. Later, two British authors Lynn and Gray Poole when visiting Delphi in the late 1950s saw the stone and reported in their "History of the Ancient Games" that the Olympic rings design came from ancient Greece. This has become known as "Carl Diem's Stone". This created a myth that the symbol had an ancient Greek origin. The rings would subsequently be featured prominently in Nazi images in 1936 as part of an effort to glorify the Third Reich.
The current view of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is that the symbol "reinforces the idea" that the Olympic Movement is international and welcomes all countries of the world to join. As can be read in the Olympic Charter, the Olympic symbol represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. However, no continent is represented by any specific ring. Though colorful explanations about the symbolism of the colored rings exist (for example, it is said that the five Olympic rings are blue, yellow, black, green, and red because at least one of these colors appears on every national flag), the only connection between the rings and the continents is that the number five refers to the number of continents. In this scheme, The Americas are viewed as a single continent, and Antarctica is omitted. The current 5 continents are Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
The black ring may be substituted by a white ring if the symbol is placed on a dark-colored background.
Each Olympic Games has its own Olympic emblem, which is a design integrating the Olympic rings with one or more distinctive elements. All emblems are the exclusive property of the IOC and cannot be used without its authorization.
The Olympic flag [...] has a white background, with five interlaced rings in the centre: blue, yellow, black, green and red [...] This design is symbolic ; it represents the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism, while the six colors are those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time.|20|20|Pierre De Coubertin (1931)
There are specific Olympic flags that are displayed by cities that will be hosting the next Olympic games. Traditionally, the flag is passed from the mayor of one host city to the next host at the Closing Ceremony, where it will be taken to the new host and displayed at city hall.
The first Olympic flag was presented to the IOC at the 1920 Summer Olympics by the city of Antwerp, Belgium. At the end of the Games, the flag could not be found and a new Olympic flag had to be made for the 1924 Summer Olympics. In 1977, at a banquet hosted by the US Olympic Committee, a reporter was interviewing Haig ("Harry", "Hal") Prieste who had won a bronze medal in platform diving as a member of the 1920 US Olympic team. The reporter mentioned that the IOC had not been able to find out what had happened to the original Olympic flag. "I can help you with that," Prieste said, "It's in my suitcase." At the end of the Antwerp Olympics, spurred on by team-mate Duke Kahanamoku, he climbed a flagpole and stole the Olympic flag. For 77 years the flag was stored away in the bottom of his suitcase. The flag was returned to the IOC by Prieste, by then 103 years old, in a special ceremony held at the 2000 Games in Sydney. The Antwerp Flag is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a plaque thanking him for donating it.
A new Olympic flag was created for the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris and was passed on to the next organizing city of the Summer Olympics or Winter Olympics until the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway when a separate Olympic flag was created to be used only at the Winter Olympics. The Paris flag continued to be used at the Summer Olympics until the Games of Seoul 1988 when it was retired.
The Olympic medals awarded to winners are another symbol associated with the Olympic games. The medals are made of gold-plated silver (commonly described as "gold medals"), silver, or bronze, and awarded to the top 3 finishers in a particular event. Each medal for an Olympiad has a common design, decided upon by the organizers for the particular games. From 1928 until 2000, the obverse side of the medals contained an image of Nike, the traditional goddess of victory, holding a palm in her left hand and a winners crown in her right. This design was created by Giuseppe Cassioli. For each Olympic games, the reverse side as well as the labels for each Olympiad changed, reflecting the host of the games.
In 2004, the obverse side of the medals changed to make more explicit reference to the Greek character of the games. In this design, the goddess Nike flies into the Panathenic stadium, reflecting the renewal of the games.
The medals for the Winter Olympics do not have a common side as the design for both sides is decided by the host organizers.
Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" is often considered the most famous Olympic theme. Written in 1958 for Arnaud's Charge Suite, it is this piece, more than any of the fanfares or Olympic themes, that Americans recognize as the Olympic theme, a connection which began when ABC used it in broadcasts for the 1968 Olympics, and continued by NBC. According to United States Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Moran, many athletes include this piece in the music they listen to while preparing for competition. Arnaud's piece is stately, beginning with a timpani cadence that is soon joined by a distinctive theme in brass.
John Williams composed the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" for the 1984 Olympic Games, which were held in Los Angeles. It was released in its entirety on the albums "The Official Music of the XXIIIrd Olympiad Los Angeles 1984" and "The Official Music of the 1984 Games," with the latter made available on CD. The premiere recording was performed by an orchestra composed of Los Angeles-area musicians under the baton of the composer. A slightly different arrangement of the piece was released on the Philips album "By Request: The Best of John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra."
In 1996, an alternate version of "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" was released on the album Summon the Heroes for the Atlanta Olympic Games. In this arrangement, the first part of the piece was replaced with Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream." Although perhaps not as familiar as Arnaud's theme, it is hardly unknown, since it also is still used in network coverage of the Olympics.
"Olympic Fanfare and Theme" (not including the familiar part by Arnaud) was awarded a Grammy in 1985.
At Athens 2004 the kotinos tradition was renewed, although in this case it was bestowed together with the gold medal. Apart from its use in the awards-ceremonies, the kotinos was chosen as the 2004 Summer Olympics emblem.
The greeting is visible on the official posters of the games at Paris 1924 and Berlin 1936. Also famous is the French and Canadian teams entering the Olympic stadium in Berlin, 1936 with their arms raised. In the Leni Riefenstahl film Olympia this scene was captured, and afterwards led to repeated misinterpretations suggesting that the French delegation was greeting Hitler.
Since the Second World War the greeting has been banned because of the Nazi-reference, although no official statement on this is known.
Since the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France the Olympic Games have had a mascot, usually an animal native to the area or occasionally human figures representing the cultural heritage. The first major mascot in the Olympic Games was Misha in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Misha was used extensively during the opening and closing ceremonies, had a TV animated cartoon and appeared on several merchandise products. Nowadays, most of the merchandise aimed at young people focuses on the mascots, rather than the Olympic flag or organization logos.