The Ceremonies of the Olympic Games
The Ancient Olympic Games originated in Greece, where the first competitive sports were played. The modern Olympics models its ancestry down to the opening and closing ceremonies. For instance, the winners of the Ancient Games received an olive wreath as their reward. In 2004, the International Olympic Committee decided to honor this tradition by rewarding the winners with a crown of olive branches. The artistic display during the opening, closing, and victory ceremonies must meet the standards set forth by the International Olympic Committee. In fact, the IOC oversees every action put in motion at the scheduled Olympic Games.
The Olympic ceremonies evolved over the centuries; however, many elements mirror the ancient way of marking the start and finish of the Games. The International Olympic Committee has preserved the core of the Ancient Olympics by keeping the basic events of the scheduled event the same. For instance, the modern Olympic Games incorporate technological advances to allow the hosting nation to display their own artistic expression. Each nation may build their own elements into the opening and closing ceremonies after they have met the approval of the International Olympic Committee. As the years trail along, the ceremonies continue to expand in scope, scale, and expense in an attempt to outdo previous celebrations; however, the majority of nations recognize the backbone of Grecian tradition.
The opening ceremonies represent the official start of the Olympic Games; however, the modern Games have introduced athletic competition before the commencement of the main sporting events, especially with the ever-expanding football competition that continues to add a growing number of teams each successive celebration. The Olympic Charter dictates that each celebration follows the canonized rituals bestowed during the 1920 Summer Olympic Games. The opening ceremonies typically commence with the raising of the hosting nation's flag along with the signing of the national anthem. Afterward, the hosting nation displays its artistic works in the form of music, art, singing, dance, and theater. In addition, it details the country's history, culture, and overall importance for the global community. It also showcases the current Olympic Game motto. The traditional part of the opening ceremonies commences with the Parade of Nations, or the introduction of the participating athletes in marching form. Each of these participating athletes marches with their country's team by raising their nation's flag. Shortly thereafter, the President of the Organizing Committee and IOC makes a speech and then turns the microphone over to the country's representative who officially declares the opening of the Games.
Conversely, the closing ceremonies adhere more to tradition than the official mandate set forth by the International Olympic Committee. After the succession of each sporting event, a series of flag bearers will form a line in single file and then march behind all of the participating athletes without grouping teams by nationality. Afterward, the flag bearers raise three national flags and then play the national anthems. The President of the Organizing Committee makes a speech before the President of the International Committee formally closes the Games. Once the IOC president declares the Games over, the Olympic Flame extinguishes and then a band plays the official Olympic hymn. During the medal ceremonies, the winners would receive their respective medals at the end of each sporting event that they win. A three-tiered platform supports each of the three winners in ascending order. The gold, silver, and bronze medalists have the honor of sitting next to their nation's flag while their national anthem plays in the background.
Follow these links to learn more about the Olympic Games and its ceremonies:
- Ancient Olympic Games
- The Origins of the Olympic Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies (PDF)
- The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
- The Olympic Games Ceremonies Protocols (PDF)
- Beijing: Opening Ceremonies
- Olympic Rules and Regulations
- The History of the Olympics: Opening Ceremony (PDF).
- The Opening, Closing, and Victory Ceremonies of the Olympic Games
- Olympic Opening Ceremony Order of Events (PDF)
- Olympic Opening Ceremonies
- Standards Help to Make Olympics Opening Ceremony Unforgettable (PDF)
- Somber Moments at the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremony
- CNR at the Olympics: Photographs
- The Olympic Flame at the Closing Ceremony
- Symbols of the Olympic Games
- The Modern Olympic Games and their Model in Antiquity (PDF)
- America at the First Modern Olympics
- The Modern Olympic Games
- Summer Olympic Cities
- Olympics Games Opening Ceremonies Over the Years
- 2012 Olympic Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Fascinating Facts About the Olympic Games
- Olympic and Paralympic Facts (PDF)
- The Olympic Torch (PDF)
- Opening Ceremony Story and Narrative (PDF)
- Bidding for the Olympics: Fool’s Gold? (PDF)
- The Context of the Games and the Olympic Spirit
- The Olympic Symbols
- Olympic Symbols
- Olympic Symbols: Then and Now (PDF)