Pledging fair play

16 Dec 2020

Belgium’s Victor Boin, a fencing and water polo Olympian and the flagbearer for the Belgian delegation, became the first athlete to read an oath at the Olympic Games, taking to the stage while carrying the Belgian flag during the Opening Ceremony at Antwerp 1920. The Olympic oath has been repeated ever since at every Olympic Games. It constitutes one of the protocol elements of the opening ceremony and is taken by an athlete from the host county, on behalf of all the athletes, while holding a corner of the Olympic flag.

Written by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the oath includes a pledge, on behalf of all the competitors present, that they will “respect and abide by the rules” in the “true spirit of sportsmanship”. The text of the Olympic oath has been modified over time to reflect the changing nature of sports competitions. Since 1972, a judge has sworn an oath alongside the athlete; and since 2012, a coach has also joined this symbolic moment during the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

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