How do the Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies take place?

  • 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

    Learn more:

Olympic documents

Visit the Olympic.org documents repository to find a list of all documents published on this website. This section contains the major reports, studies, publications and information regarding the Olympic Movement.
View documents

Olympic studies

The IOC Olympic Studies Centre is the world source of reference for Olympic knowledge. As an integral part of the IOC, we are uniquely placed to provide the most accurate, relevant and up-to-date information on Olympism.
Learn more