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  • Can I use the Olympic rings?
    • The Olympic rings are the exclusive property of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They are a mark protected around the world and cannot be used without the IOC's prior written consent.

      You can send a detailed request to legal@olympic.org which must include the below information:

      • Who is making the request? Name, full address, telephone and/or fax number, e-mail address. Organisation, company, museum or individual.
      • Which content is concerned? (texts, images or films)
      • How will the content be used? Private use (no broadcasting), school work, group activities, exhibition, production/broadcasting

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  • What is the meaning of the Olympic rings?
    • The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colours, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) 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.

      But watch out, it is wrong to say that each of the colours corresponds to a certain continent! In fact, when Pierre de Coubertin created the Rings in 1913, the five colours combined with the white background represented the colours of the flags of all nations at that time, without exception.

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  • What are the Olympic properties?
    • The Olympic properties are:

      • The Olympic symbol (rings)
      • The Olympic flag
      • The Olympic motto
      • The Olympic anthem
      • Olympic identifications (including but not limited to "Olympic Games" and "Games of the Olympiad")
      • Olympic designations
      • Olympic emblems
      • The Olympic flame and torches

      The International Olympic Committee (IOC) owns all rights on the Olympic properties.

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  • What is the Olympic motto?
    • The Olympic motto is made up of three Latin words :

      Citius - Altius - Fortius. These words mean Faster - Higher - Stronger.

      It was the Dominican priest Henri Didon who first expressed the words in the opening ceremony of a school sports event in 1881. Pierre de Coubertin, who was present that day, adopted them as the Olympic motto. It expresses the aspirations of the Olympic Movement not only in its athletic and technical sense but also from a moral and educational perspective.

      The Olympic motto is an Olympic property.

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  • Who wrote the Olympic anthem?
    • The music for the Olympic anthem was composed by Spiros Samaras, to words by Kostas Palamas, for the first Games in Athens in 1896. Various musical arrangements went on to be played at the opening ceremonies. In 1958, in Tokyo, the IOC Session decided that the Samaras/Palamas composition would be the official Anthem as of the 1960 Games (Squaw Valley and Rome).

      The Olympic anthem is one of the Olympic properties:

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  • Is it possible to obtain an Olympic flag?
    • The Olympic flag is an Olympic property. Its use is reserved for the Olympic Games. For this reason, it cannot be made available for public use.

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  • What is the Torch relay?
    • A few months before the opening of the Olympic Games, a flame is lit at Olympia, in Greece. The location recalls the link between the Ancient Olympic Games and their modern counterpart. From there, the Flame is carried for a number of weeks to the host city, mainly on foot by runners, but also using other forms of transport.

      Throughout the Torch relay, the flame announces the Olympic Games and spreads a message of peace and friendship between peoples. The Torch relay ends at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The final runner (or sometimes runners) enters the stadium and lights the cauldron with the Olympic flame. The Games can then begin!

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  • Who created the Olympic rings symbol?
    • The Rings appeared for the first time in 1913 at the top of a letter written by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. He drew and coloured the rings by hand.

      In the Olympic Review of August 1913, he explained that "These five rings represent the five parts of the world now won over to Olympism and ready to accept its fertile rivalries. Moreover, the six colours thus combined reproduce those of all the nations without exception."

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  • When was the first Olympic torch relay held?
    • For the Summer Games, the first Olympic torch relay was in 1936. Reviving the idea of the torch races in Ancient Greece, the Secretary General of the Organising Committee for the Games in Berlin, Carl Diem, proposed that a flame be lit at Olympia and then relayed on foot to Berlin. That year, more than 3,000 athletes from seven countries took part in the relay.

      For the Winter Games, the first Torch relay was at the 1952 Games in Oslo. It did not begin in Olympia, Greece, but in the Morgedal valley in Norway. It is only since the 1964 Games in Innsbruck that the relay has started in Olympia.

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  • What does the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games Torch look like?
  • What is the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay?
    • After the traditional flame-lighting ceremony at Olympia in Greece, the cradle of the ancient Olympic Games, on 12 March 2020, the Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay will begin its journey across Japan in the Fukushima prefecture on 26 March 2020. It will cross the country and its 47 prefectures for 121 days, ending on 24 July in Tokyo at the Opening Ceremony. The Relay will have the famous Japanese cherry blossom as its background, as these trees usually bloom at the beginning of April.

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  • What is the design of the medals for the Olympic Summer Games Tokyo 2020
    • On the reverse, the lines surrounding the emblem of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 collect and reflect myriad patterns of light, symbolising the energy of the athletes and those who support them. The design is intended to symbolise diversity and the constant efforts of athletes striving for victory. The medals resemble rough stones that have been polished and which now shine with light and warmth, evoking the friendship created between the peoples of the world.

      For its part, the medal ribbon features traditional Japanese design motifs in a modern presentation. Silicone convex lines are applied on the surface of the ribbon so it is possible to recognise the type of medal by simply touching it.
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  • What are the mascots for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022?
    • The mascot for the Tokyo Games is called Miraitowa. The name is derived from two Japanese words: mirai (meaning future) and towa (meaning eternity). Miraitowa has the same chequered blue motif as the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem on its head and body. Between December 2017 and February 2018, primary schools in Japan took part in an Olympic and Paralympic mascot selection process and voted for their favourite designs.

      The mascot for the 2022 Games in Beijing is called Bing Dwen Dwen. Bing (冰) is the Chinese character for ice, and Dwen Dwen (墩墩) is a Chinese moniker for children. Bing Dwen Dwen is a panda wearing an ice suit, which represents purity and strength. The heart on its left paw symbolises Chinese hospitality. The bright colours of the halo around its face represent ice and snow sport tracks, and the rings recall the shape of the National Speed Skating Oval. Resembling an astronaut, the mascot also illustrates the importance of new technologies for Beijing 2022.

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  • What is Olympism?
    • Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

      The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

      Olympism in action includes six global activities:
      Sport for All, Peace through Sport, Development through Sport, Women and Sport, Education through Sport as well as Sport and Environment.

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  • What are the values of Olympism?
    • The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. They constitute the foundation on which the Olympic Movement builds its activities to promote sport, culture and education with a view to building a better world.

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  • What is the Olympic creed ?
    • "The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well."


      Inspired by the words of the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Ethelbert Talbot, Pierre de Coubertin first spoke this phrase in a slightly different form at a reception given by the British government on 24 July 1908. It went on to become the Olympic Movement’s creed.

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  • What is the Olympic Charter?
    • The Olympic Charter is the codification of the fundamental principles of Olympism, and the rules and bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It governs the organisation, actions and functioning of the Olympic Movement and establishes the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.”

      The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter are based on a document written by Pierre de Coubertin in around 1898. The first edition was published in 1908 under the title of Annuaire du Comité International Olympique. The Olympic Charter was later known by other names, including “Olympic Rules”, before finally taking the name Olympic Charter in 1978.

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  • What is the Olympic Channel?
    • The Olympic Channel is a digital-first, multiplatform global Olympic media entity, which aims to broadcast the Olympic Movement and its inherent values all year round, especially in the periods between the Olympic Games.

      The primary objectives of the Olympic Channel are the following:

      • Provide a platform for the continuous exposure of Olympic sports and athletes beyond the Olympic Games period and help create anticipation while providing opportunities to "re-live the experience" after the Games

      • Continuously highlight the relevance of the Olympic Movement's ideals to the challenges of today's world

      • Provide a platform for sharing the IOC's very rich patrimonial assets and archives with the world and create additional value and content for the IOC archives

      • As a matter of priority, engage the young generations around the world using methods that are relevant to them, building understanding, entertainment and education.

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Olympic documents

Visit the Olympic.org documents repository to find a list of all documents published on this website. This section contains the major reports, studies, publications and information regarding the Olympic Movement.

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Olympic studies

The IOC Olympic Studies Centre is the world source of reference for Olympic knowledge. As an integral part of the IOC, we are uniquely placed to provide the most accurate, relevant and up-to-date information on Olympism.

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