Myth buster: Yellow Olympic ring does not represent Asia, neither do the other four

The five Olympic rings represent the five inhabited continents of the world but none of them are assigned to any particular continent.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The Olympic symbol, popularly known as the Olympic Rings, is one of the most recognisable signs in the sporting world.

It makes for a memorable backdrop as well. Those at the Olympic Games, whether athlete, spectator or official, often line up to take a picture with the famed rings. The rings also feature on the Olympic flag and medals.

But the Olympic Rings have a much deeper meaning than just being showpieces at the big Games.

All Olympic medals feature the five Olympic rings.
Picture by 2004 Getty Images

Designed in 1913 by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, the symbol features five rings of five different colours – blue, yellow, black, green and red – interlaced with each other on a white background.

The first Olympic rings designed by Pierre de Coubertin.

During the days of conflict in the 20th century, the Olympic Games promoted peace and friendly competition among nations as part of its Olympism philosophy and continues to do so today.

Thus, the five rings represent the union of the five inhabited continents – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania – and their interlinking shows the inclusiveness of Olympism and how athletes from all over the world come together for the Olympic Games.

“These five rings represent the five parts of the world now won over to the cause of Olympism and ready to accept its fecund rivalries,” Pierre de Coubertin said.

And one popular notion has been that every ring corresponds to a particular continent.

So, which colour represents Asia in Olympic rings?

The answer is none.

Contrary to popular belief, the Olympic Rings’ colours do not represent any continent.

When Pierre de Coubertin first designed the Olympic Rings, the five colours in combination with the white background could produce the colour of all national flags and can do so today as well.

The rings underwent several changes since debuting at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, but the colours were never changed, keeping in line with Pierre de Coubertin’s vision.

It is therefore incorrect to associate any colour with a particular continent.

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