Nov 9, 2013

Olympic Symbolism

As the world gets ready to celebrate next year's Sochi Winter Olympic games in Russia, Russian cosmonauts took the Olympic Torch on its first-ever space walk, according to the BBC.

Pictured above is Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Kotov, waving an unlit version of the Olympic Torch over 260 miles above the Earth. For obvious reasons, this torch was not the flaming torch we know as the official Olympic Torch, but the gesture shows Russia's enthusiasm for being next year's host. 

The spacewalk may also be an attempt to garner some positive press for next year's games, after widespread reporting that the Olympic Torch had been accidentally snuffed out shortly after it arrived in Moscow - and was relit with a cigarette lighter.  You can read about this unfortunate snafu here and here.

What Does The Olympic Torch Symbolize?


Because the Olympics has its roots in ancient Greek games, it probably comes as little surprise that the symbology of the torch also relates back to ancient Greece.  Interestingly, universal agreement on its meaning is not a given.

According to Wikipedia, the flame of the Olympic Torch represents the fire that Prometheus stole from the gods of Olympus.  However, another website states, in decidedly more glowing terms, that the Olympic Torch represented the "endeavor for protection and struggle for victory."  According to that same website, the ritual of lighting the torch for the games began in Olympia, Greece where a sacred torch was lit from the rays of the sun.


What other ideas or concepts have you heard the Olympic Torch represents?  If any of you have heard different explanations, please share them with us. 

The 5 Interlocking Rings

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Another well-known symbol of the Olympic games are the 5 interlocking, multi-colored rings.  What do these rings, shown right, represent?

According to a Wikipedia article on "Olympic Symbols," quoting Baron Pierre de Coubertin (the founder of the modern Olympics), the 5 interlocking rings on a white background collectively represent the colors that were on the flags of each of the participating countries in 1912, the year the symbol was designed.

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