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Ceremonies, Symbols, and Traditions of the Ancient and Modern Olympics
Modern Olympic Symbols and Traditions
Ancient Olympics
Ancient Olympic Ceremonies
Ancient Olympic Symbols and Traditions
Father of Modern Olympics
Modern Olympics
Modern Olympic Ceremonies
Modern Olympic Symbols and Traditions
Olympic Extras!

The basis of our modern Olympic Games comes from the ancient Greek Olympics, so as you may notice there are many similarities. On the other hand, there are also many differences too!

Athens 2004 Medal
This is the back of the medal.

The top three finishers of each event leave the Olympic games with a souvenir of their victory, a medal. Each medal for each game is different and unique each game, which is designed by the host nations Olympic committee.  One of the IOC rules that the medal must comply with is that it must be at least six centimeters in diameter and three millimeters thick. Also, the gold and silver medals must be 92.5% pure silver. The gold medals must be gilded with at least six grams of gold.


Baron Pierre de Coubertin created the Olympic flag and rings in 1913. His flag design was influenced by an ancient Greek artifact and consists of a white background with five interlocking rings. The colors blue, red, green, black, and yellow were chosen as the colors of the rings because at least one color can be found in every nations flag. Each ring represents one continent. According to the IOC regulations, the Olympic flag should be freely flown with other flags, and must be in the central position of the main stadium, so it can easily be seen.  At the end of the Olympics, it taken down and presented to the mayor of the next Olympic Games location by the mayor of the current Olympic Games. The Olympic flag first appeared in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The Olympic flag and interlocking rings are a symbol of the unification and meeting of the athletes in an atmosphere of fair play and friendship.


The modern Olympic flame symbolizes international unity, the transmission of Olympic ideals from ancient Greece to the modern world, light of spirit, knowledge, and life. It is known as the Olympic messenger of peace and is always lit at Hera's altar in Olympia by using a concave mirror to concentrate sunrays. The Olympic flame was first lit at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The Olympic flame is taken by torch relay over a period of several weeks and months from Olympia, Greece to the host city from torch to torch by series of runners, who run one kilometer each, across national borders. The torch relay was first introduced in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Many other kinds of transportation are used to carry the flame, such as airplanes, horses, skis, cars, and etc. On the way to the Olympic location, the torch is used to light a flame at Baron Pierre de Coubertin's Grave in his honor. After the last runner circles the track and lights the flame in the Olympic cauldron in the main Olympic stadium, the host country's head declares the Olympics officially open.


Olympic Flag and Rings

Athens 2004 Olympic Torch
It was designed to look like an olive branch.

Athens 2004 Olympic Mascots
Athena and her brother, Phevos, are named after the goddess of wisdom and the god of light and music

One Olympic symbol that is enjoyed and understood by the young and old are the Olympic mascots because they add personality and pizzazz to the games. The local Olympic committee of the host city chooses the mascot, which is usually an animated form that represents the traditions and cultures of the people of the host nation. In 1968, the first official Olympic mascot, a red jaguar inspired by the Maya civilization, appeared in Mexico City. The jaguar did not raise enthusiasm among the people like modern mascots, but it laid the way for such a product or symbol to be accepted by the general worldwide.


Pierre de Coubertin wanted to make sure that no athletes would cheat and wanted to stray them away from doing drugs, using violence, or any type of unfair acts during the Olympics, so he created the Olympic Oath. The IOC introduced the athletes Olympic Oath for the first time at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. An athlete of the host country recites the Olympic oath at each Olympic Games for all the athletes. They must promise to compete fairly and abide by the rules. At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, the judges took their Olympic oath for the first time, which also was written by Coubertin. They must promise to be truthful and fair in judging competitions. If it is broken, the punishment is determined by the severity of the violation.


The Olympic Motto is used today to inspire and motivate great athletes around the world to accomplish their goals. Pierre Coubertin heard Father Henri Martin Dideon, the headmaster of Arcueil College in Paris, say to his athletes "Citius, Altius, Fortius," which is the Olympic motto today. Father Dideon used the Latin quote to depict the amazing achievements of the athletes at his school. The quote inspired Pierre Coubertin to use it for the Olympic athletes to inspire them to dream and reach their full potential and describe the goals of all athletes around the world. The quote is universally accepted as "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."


In a speech, Bishop Ethelbert gave to his athletes, Pierre Coubertin heard a quote that motivated him, and used it to become the Olympic Creed. Pierre Coubertin wanted to include the creed to remind athletes that they are there to be part of something that is far more important than winning the gold medal, whether they win or lose, their efforts have paid off. The Olympic Creed is "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."

"Citius, Altius, Fortius"

"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."

-Baron Pierre de Coubertin