News

Do you know what the Olympic rings stand for?

Do you know what the Olympic rings stand for?

RINGS AND THINGS: International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams says "the rings are not assigned to each continent," despite popular legend." Photo: Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — No, the different-colored Olympic rings don’t correspond to specific continents.

But you’d be forgiven for thinking differently if you’re going to or from Sochi’s airport.

Five enormous concrete sculptures of the rings welcome visitors, each labeled in bold letters, in Russian and English, with the name of a continent: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Americas.

SPECIAL SECTION: 2014 Winter Olympics

Trouble is, that’s wrong. International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams says “the rings are not assigned to each continent,” despite popular legend. “I don’t know how that happened, but I don’t think it’s a major issue.”

Olympic historian Philip Barker says an information panel at the 2000 Sydney games similarly misled visitors by attaching continents to specific rings.

When Pierre de Coubertin, considered the founder of the modern Olympics, designed the rings a century ago, he chose black, red, yellow, green and blue because every flag in the world bore at least one of those colors, according to the Olympic Museum.

When one of the rings failed to open during the Sochi Olympic opening ceremony last week, some pesky tweeters perpetuated the continent-color myth and a bit of Cold War nostalgia. They noted the missing ring was the red one — mistakenly considered the American ring. Nope.

Recent Headlines

in Viral Videos

Paralyzed student walks across stage at college graduation

Fresh
10-overlay5

Injured playing football in 2010, Christopher Norton walked across the stage with help from his new fiancée.

in Music

Stars salute Pete Townshend

Fresh
24-overlay6

The Who star was honored with a special concert for his longtime work with the MusiCares charity.

in Viral Videos

This ‘Single Ladies/Ducktales’ mashup is a thing of beauty

12-overlay4

WATCH: The infamous video from Beyoncé's hit single pairs perfectly with the cartoon theme song.

in Sports

WATCH: Preserving Muhammad Ali’s childhood home

15-overlay7

An effort is underway to restore the Louisville home where the boxing legend grew up.

in Music

Berry Gordy’s ‘Motown Mansion’ is on the market

berrygordy

It's your chance to live like a music legend.

Bellingham Traffic