By: Karen Bryk, M.V.O.
Deputy Chief of Protocol
Government of Manitoba
The various elements of the Olympic Games ceremonies are mandated by the Olympic Charter and cannot be changed by the host nation. The basic events of each ceremony have remained unchanged. The presentation of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies continue to increase in scope, scale and expense with each successive celebration, but they are still steeped in tradition.
The Olympic Flag
Baron de Coubertin designed the Olympic Flag in 1913-14. It has five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green and red) on a white background. The ring’s colours were based on the knowledge that at least one of these colours is on every flag of each participating country. The five interlocking rings represent the union of the five continents and the meeting of the athletes of the world at the Olympic Game.
Opening Ceremony Protocol
In the parade of the participants each delegation must be preceded by a name board bearing its name and must be accompanied by its flag. The delegations parade in alphabetical order according to the language of the host country, except for Greece, which leads the parade, and for the host country, which brings up the rear.
Closing Ceremony Protocol
The closing ceremony must take place in the stadium after the end of all the events. The flag bearers of the participating delegations and the name-boardbearers enter the stadium in single file. Behind them march the athletes, without distinction of nationality. The flag bearers then form a semi-circle behind the rostrum.