Fundamental changes to the Olympic oath at Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony

One of the most symbolic and important parts of the Opening Ceremony – the Olympic oath – has been significantly adapted in order to highlight the importance of solidarity, inclusion, non-discrimination and equality. 

Olympic Oath Getty Images
Not only has the Olympic Oath been updated, 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. This is in line with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee’s drive towards gender equality as it enables full gender balance amongst those taking the oath on behalf of all Games participants.

The gender balance of the oath-takers is just one of a large number of decisions and commitments from the IOC and the Organising Committee to promote women in sport at all levels and in all structures, as stated in the Olympic Charter.

Changes to the Olympic oath

The new wording of the Olympic oath results from a set of recommendations drawn up by the IOC Athletes’ Commission on Rule 50.2 and athlete expression in order to increase opportunities for athlete expression during the Olympic Games. These recommendations were approved by the IOC Executive Board back in April 2021.

The new wording of the Olympic oath is:

Depending on which group is speaking: “In the name of the athletes”, “In the name of all judges” or “In the name of all the coaches and officials”.

“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.”

On this significant development, IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry said: “We Olympians are role models and ambassadors. We stand together to send out to the world a powerful message of equality, inclusion, solidarity, peace and respect. The Olympic oath-takers selected for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be fully gender equal and will take the Olympic oath on behalf of all the Olympians, judges, coaches and officials, who they represent, in the true spirit of solidarity.”

The Olympic oath was first recited at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Antwerp 1920. The original text was written by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, and it has evolved over time to reflect the changing nature of sports competitions.

Gender equality at the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the first gender-equal Games, with female athlete places at almost 49 per cent.

Following a decision taken by the IOC Executive Board, all participating National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have been offered the opportunity to be represented by a minimum of one female and one male athlete at all editions of the Olympic Summer Games.

Additionally, the IOC Executive Board changed the IOC’s protocol guidelines to allow one male and one female athlete to jointly carry their country’s flag during the Opening Ceremony and encourages all NOCs to use this opportunity to send a strong message of inclusive and gender-equal Olympic Games where women and men have equal prominence.

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The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.

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