The Summer Olympics are about to get under way in London, and Yahoo! Sports will be there covering the festivities 24/7. Of course, the Olympic Rings will be front and center throughout. Folks may find themselves wondering if the five intertwined rings have any significance. Short answer — yep, they do.
According to Mental Floss, the rings were created by French educator Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, also known as the father of the Modern Olympic Games.
The interlocked rings symbolize, in Coubertin’s words in 1931, “the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympism.” For Coubertin’s purposes, the five continents were the Americas (both North and South), Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
According to The New York Times, some historians believe Baron Coubertin was inspired by an ad for Dunlop bicycle tires. “The baron had been perusing a magazine illustrated with five bicycle tires at around the same time that he invented his design, according to the historian Karl Lennantz.”
A popular myth is that the different colors of the rings represent a different continent. Not true. The colors (black, green, blue, red, yellow) were chosen because they were the most commonly occurring colors on national flags. Also not true — that the rings were originally used during the ancient Olympic Games in Greece. The symbol is relatively modern.
No doubt about it — the rings are one of the most recognized symbols on the planet. Just be careful about using the symbol without permission from the International Olympic Committee.
Got an event you’re most looking forward to watching at the Games? Sound off below.
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