2004 Olympic Information
2004 Opening Ceremony Pictures Gallery
2004 Closing Ceremony Picture Gallery

Information on Olympic Games

Olympic Motto

The Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Braver," but is universally accepted to mean "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."

Olympic Rings


The Olympic symbol-five interlocked rings-represents the union of the five original major continents (Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe) and the meeting of the athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games. The five colors of the rings from left to right are blue, black and red across the top and yellow and green along the bottom. The colors of the rings are thought to have been chosen because at least one of these colors can be found in the flag of every nation.

Olympic Flag

The Olympic Flag has a plain white background with no border. In the center are the five interlocked Olympic rings. The flag was presented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1914 at the Olympic Congress is 1914, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the International Olympic Committee. It was flown that year at Alexandria, Greece, but made its Olympic debut in 1920 at Antwerp. The "primary" Olympic flag was thus known as "the Antwerp flag." In 1984, Seoul presented a new Olympic flag (as the old was getting quite worn) to the IOC, which was first flown at the 1988 Olympic Games.

At the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games, the mayor of the Olympic host city presents the Olympic flag to the mayor of the next Olympic host city. The flag is then kept in the town hall of the host city until the next Olympic Games.

Olympic Mascot

The first Olympic mascot made a discreet appearance at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble. Its name was Schuss. The first mascot for the Summer Games was Waldi, the dachshund of the 1972 Munich Games.

The Olympic mascot, however successful, disappears with the end of the Games its personifies. It was created to be understood by everyone, especially the young. It is friendly and appealing and is part of the visual identity of the Games.

Olympic Creed

The words of the Olympic Creed are attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not the 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."

De Coubertin adopted, and later quoted, this creed after hearing Ethelbert Talbot, the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, speak at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 19, 1908, during the London Games. The service was given for the Olympic athletes, who were all invited. Talbot's exact words that day were: "The important thing in these Olympics is not so much winning as taking part."

Olympic Games Torchbearers

The idea of lighting an Olympic flame for the duration of the Games derives from the ancient Greeks who used a flame lit by the sun's rays at Olympia, Greece, the site of the original Games. The concept was revived at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and has remained an Olympic tradition.

Victory Ceremonies

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On the podium, medals are presented to the first, second and third-place finishers. The winner stands in the middle at the highest elevation; the runner-up stands slightly below to the victor's right and the third-place finisher stands lower to the left. Olympic medals must be at least 66 millimeters in diameter and at least three millimeters thick. Gold and silver medals must be made of 92.5 percent pure silver; the gold medal must be gilded with at least six grams of gold. The design of the medals is the responsibility of the host city"s organizing committee.

At the first modern Games in Greece in 1896, medals were given only to first and second-place finishers. The winner received a silver medal and the runner-up a bronze medal. The winner was also given a crown of olive branches, while the second-place finisher settled for a laurel branch crown.

The 1900 Games in Paris remain the only Olympics where no medals were awarded. Instead winners were given valuable pieces of art.

Opening Ceremonies

Planning and execution of this dazzling spectacle is primarily the responsibility of the host city, but basic guidelines, as outlined in the Olympic Charlter of 1985 exist.

Athletes from every country parade into the main Olympic stadium in alphabetical order according to the host country's language with two exceptions: Greece, which hosted the first modern Games in 1896, always leads the parade, and the host country's team is always last.

A woman carrying each country's respective placard walks in front of the athletes. Behind her is the standard flag bearer for each nation. The proceeding program is traditional and fairly consistent.

The president of the IOC asks the host country's Head of State to open the Games. The Head of State does the honors with the following phrase: "I declare open the Games of (host city), celebrating the (number of the) Olympiad of the modern era."

Closing Ceremonies

The closing ceremony, which is also held in the main Olympic stadium, signals the official end of the Games. Olympic protocol requires each country to select a standard bearer. The athletes march in no particular order, between eight and 10 abreast.

"United only by the friendly bonds of Olympic sport."

As the Greek national anthem is played, the Greek flag is raised to the right of the center flagpole. Then the flag of the next host country is raised to the left.

The IOC president then pronounces the Games closed with the following statement: "I call upon the youth of all countries to assemble four years from now at (the site of the next Olympics), there to celebrate with us the Games of the (number of the next) Olympiad."

The official ending of the Olympic Games is marked by the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame to the strains of the Olympic Hymn. The Olympic Flag is then lowered and carried from the stadium by eight people.

Olympic Oath

The Olympic Oath is a symbolic gesture of sportsmanship that began at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. Basically, one athlete from the host country takes an oath in the Opening Ceremonies on behalf of all athletes, pledging to uphold the Olympic spirit of competition and fair play. It is also given by a judge from the host country with slightly different wording.

The oath is as follows: "In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

Oath takers are chosen by the host city’s organizing committee and are usually athletes from the host country.

Olympic Hymn

The Olympic Hymn is played when the Olympic Flag is raised. The music was composed by Spirou Samara. The words were added by Costis of Greece in 1896.

"Immortal spirit of antiquity
Father of the true, beautiful and good
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has fits witnessed by unperishable fame.

"Give life and animation to those noble Games
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in the strife
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel.

"In thy light, plains, mountains and seas
Shine is a roseate hue and for a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee
Oh immortal spirit of antiquity."

Olympic Team Flag bearers

At each Olympic Games - winter and summer - each country's team is preceded into the Olympic stadium by an athlete or delegation representative bearing the country's flag. The practice of carrying in the nations' flags first began at the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

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