Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Saturday, August 16, 2008

6 Rings and the Americas

Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and "The Americas" -- The Five Competing Continents in the Modern Olympics

Sometimes you hear something and it goes past you -- like "The five rings of the symbol for the 'Modern Olympic Games' representing the '5' competing continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas". (image to left *-- image from Wikipedia)

I pondered 5 continents before of course -- most recently during the current games at times like during the hoisting of the Olympic Flag at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games -- wondering at first that Antarctica wouldn't be included and then considering why they might exclude Australia... Then I thought, "Perhaps they were forward thinking and considered the 'Eurasian Continent'?" I often wondered when I heard the definition in school why Europe and Asia were considered to be separate continents geographically.

I never realized that North America and South America would be lumped in together as one continent.

North and South America are as separate from one another as Africa is from Europe and Asia. Something just doesn't seem right to me. Perhaps if I lived in Europe it would make sense to me -- after all we are "The Colonies". Though that doesn't explain why they don't just include Australia as a large Asian Island, larger than Japan or like Greenland is to North America or England to Europe.

Don't get me wrong (I hope I don't end up writing that too often.) I like the flag design and how it looks. I think that 6 rings might not be so bold and esthetically pleasing a design on a flag shape. A longer linear shape would be too wide and a more circular design wouldn't fill the space as nicely.

Are representing the competing continents the real reason for the five rings? Is it just sour grapes on my part -- because I live in North America -- that I think there is something wrong with North America and South America not getting separate statuses as continents... sort of like sitting at the "children's table" at a family get together instead of with the adults?

Isn't it time we get to sit at the Big People's Table and while not redesigning the Rings Design -- reconsider what they represent and not say they represent the competing continents. After all they do represent the coming together of people from around the world from varied cultures and walks of life to compete in unity.

~ Darrell



The Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions, used alone, in one or in five different colours, which are, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The Olympic symbol (the Olympic rings) expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.

But watch out! It is wrong, therefore, to say that each of the colours corresponds to a certain continent!


* Image of Olympic Rings used only for purpose of artistic review and does not represent any connection to the IOC or Olympics.

** International Olympic Committee - WWW.OLYMPIC.ORG - Official website of the Olympic Movement.

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copperbeechfairy said...

one lives and learns- I always thought the 5 rings represented 5 basic disciplines-track field gymnastics equestrian and swimming-

Darrell Wade said...

This was what I have been told at times as well, but on hearing the continent explanation on the TV news coverage I checked on the IOC site and the continent explanation is the official one.

I have a suspicion that either one or the other is a poetic description which was made at one point and stuck. Perhaps someone waxed poetic about the 5 basic disciplines and it made sense and so stuck in many people's heads... perhaps it was in a poem or song at one of the Olympics?