Games, Ceremonies and Protocol

  • What is the role of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in organising the Olympic Games?
  • Who chooses the host for future Olympic Games?
    • It is the members of the IOC, meeting at their Session, who choose the host. Electing the host for the Olympic Games is one of the powers of the Session.

      The host city is elected by a majority of the votes cast by secret ballot. Each active member has one vote. An IOC member must refrain from taking part in a vote when the vote concerns an Olympic Games host election in which a city or any other public authority in the country of which he is a national is a candidate.

      The honorary members, honour members and suspended members are not allowed to vote. If a majority is not achieved in the first round of voting, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and a further round or rounds of voting are held until a majority is obtained by one candidate.

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  • Who organises the Olympic Games?
    • The host city’s Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) is in charge of organising this great event.

      When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects a city to stage the Games, the city and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the host country create the OCOG which will organise the Games.

      From the moment it is created, seven years before the Games, the OCOG works closely with the IOC.

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  • Who organises the Paralympic Games?
    • The Paralympic Games are supervised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), a body recognised by the IOC. Each edition of the Paralympic Games is under the responsibility of an organising committee.

      They are always held in the same year as the Olympic Games.

      Since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul and the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, the Paralympic Games have been held using the same venues as the Olympic Games.

      Since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the same organising committee has been responsible for staging both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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  • When were the host cities of the future Olympic Games chosen?
    • Tokyo 2020: Tokyo (Japan) was elected host city of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on 7 September 2013.

      Beijing 2022: Beijing (People’s Republic of China) was selected as the host city of the Olympic Winter Games 2022 at the 128th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on 31 July 2015.

      Milan-Cortina 2026: Milan-Cortina was chosen to host the Olympic Winter Games in 2026 at the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne on 24 June 2019.

      Paris 2024: Paris (France) was elected host city of the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad at the IOC Session in Lima on 13 September 2017.

      Los Angeles 2028: The IOC Session in Lima also saw Los Angeles (USA) elected host city of the Olympic Summer Games 2028.

      Brisbane 2032: Brisbane was designated to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2032 at the 138th  IOC Session in Tokyo on 21 July 2021.

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  • What is the New Norm?
    • The New Norm is an ambitious set of 118 reforms that reimagines how the Olympic Games are delivered. The plan, which focuses on six recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 related to the organisation of the Games, will provide cities with increased flexibility in designing the Games to meet long-term development goals, and will ensure that host cities receive more assistance from the IOC and the wider Olympic Movement.

      The New Norm has been approved by the IOC members during the 132nd IOC Session held in PyeongChang in February 2018. 

      More than 80 of the 118 solutions that have been proposed would result in cost efficiencies without compromising the Olympic experience. The plan invites opportunities to reduce venue sizes, rethink transport options, optimise existing infrastructure and reuse the field of play for various sports.

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  • How do the Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies take place?
    • The philosophy and ceremonial aspects which surround the Olympic Games distinguish them from all other international sports events. Through music, song, dance and fireworks, the opening and closing ceremonies invite people to discover the culture of the country in which the Games are taking place.

      In addition to these celebrations, there are some very precise rituals at the ceremonies. It was at the 1920 Games in Antwerp that most of this protocol was put in place. It has been developed over subsequent editions of the Games.

      Today, Rule 55 of the Olympic Charter specifies some of the protocol that has to be followed during the ceremonies and the words used by the head of state of the host country to open the Games. The other main points of the opening ceremony are:

      1.  Entrance of Head of State and IOC President
      2.  Playing of the national anthem
      3.  The parade of the athletes
      4.  The symbolic release of doves
      5.  Olympic Laurel Award
      6.  Official Speeches
      7.  Opening of the Games 
      8.  Raising  the  Olympic  flag  and  playing  the  Olympic Anthem
      9.  Athletes, judges and coaches’ oath
      10. Lighting of the Olympic flame
      11. The artistic programme

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  • What is the Olympic oath and when was it created?
    • Taken for the first time at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp by Victor Boin, a Belgian fencer, the Olympic oath is one of the protocol elements of the Opening Ceremony. It is taken by an athlete from the host county, on behalf of all the athletes.

      This oath is similar to the one sworn by Olympic athletes in ancient times – the only difference being that today’s athletes take the oath with the Olympic flag and not the innards of a sacrificed animal.

      Since 1972, a judge has sworn an oath alongside the athlete at the Games opening ceremony; and since 2012, so too has a coach.

      The first Olympic oath at the Games of the modern era was written by Pierre de Coubertin. It has been modified over time to reflect the changing nature of sports competitions.

      In 2000, in Sydney, for the first time, the oath explicitly included a reference to doping. Since the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the athletes’, officials’ and coaches’ oaths have been merged into one to save time during the ceremony.

      At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the number of oath-takers will be extended from three to six – two athletes, two coaches and two judges. Each representative says their own part: “In the name of the athletes”, “In the name of all judges” or “In the name of all the coaches and officials”. Then the athlete recites on behalf of all three categories: “… we promise to take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules and in the spirit of fair play, inclusion and equality. Together we stand in solidarity and commit ourselves to sport without doping, without cheating, without any form of discrimination. We do this for the honour of our teams, in respect for the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, and to make the world a better place through sport.”

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  • What is the Olympic Truce?
    • The “Olympic Truce” or “Ekecheiria” is a tradition that was established in Ancient Greece in the 9th century B.C. by the signature of a treaty between three kings. Subsequently, all the other Greek cities ratified this “international agreement”, thanks to which permanent, recognised immunity of the sanctuary of Olympia and the region of Elis became a reality. During the Truce period, the athletes, artists and their families, as well as ordinary pilgrims, could travel in total safety to participate in or attend the Olympic Games and return afterwards to their respective countries.

      In 1991, the IOC decided to revive the concept of the Olympic Truce on the occasion of the Olympic Games, with a view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to contribute to the search for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the world’s conflicts. 

      Since 1993, the United Nations General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the IOC by unanimously adopting, every two years, a year before each edition of the Olympic Games, a resolution entitled "Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal". Through this (symbolic) resolution, the UN invites its member States to observe the Olympic Truce individually or collectively, and to seek, in conformity with the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter, the peaceful settling of all international conflicts through peaceful and diplomatic means, recognising the importance of the IOC’s initiatives for human well-being and international understanding.

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