5 Rings on the Olympic Flag??

Hello All & Cecil,
I recently visited the Sydney 2000 Olymic Games Official Website (What a mouthful), and I discovered why there are only 5 rings on the Olympic Flag.

It is because no one told the IOC that there is 7 continents with 6 that are occupied with nation-states that compete in the Olympic Games.

When designed the flags rings were supposed to represent the 5 continents, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and America. (America??? Since when did the continent of North America and the continent of South America combine???)

Obviously the person who designed the flag and the IOC officials who approved it never took geography as a subject at school.

Perhaps there is another explanation for this now quite clear mistake.


Well, FWIW, I once heard that the five colours of the rings make it possible to create every flag in the world. Not the answer you wanted, but there you go.

Yes on the Olympic website it also says that the rings colors make it possible to make any flag but this wasn’t the designers original concept. Infact I don’t think it is possible to make any flag in the world using those colors.

Infact there are many nations flags that can’t be made using those colours,

Including but not limited to:
Georgia - restricting color is maroon
India - restricting color is orange

Just looking at the chart with all the flags there are heaps and I couldn’t be bothered to type them all in but you get the idea.

Anyway the color of the rings wasn’t in the designers intention so the answer of why they didn’t get their geography is still unanswered.


“Continents” are not a matter of strict, geological precision, I’m afraid. They reflect political and cultural differences, real and perceived, as much as geography.

Europe, Asia and Africa are, strictly speaking, one big land mass. We Americans COULD, with some justice, refer to the whole thing as the continent of Eurafricasia. But the three were widely considered separate continents by the ancients, and the perception stuck, in their minds. When the Americas were discovered, they viewed it as one big land mass, and treated it all as one continent (America).

I suppose I can understand why we in the US are ticked that tiny, wimpy Europe regards itself as a REAL continent, while regarding us as only a part of half a continent. All I can say is, don’t take the Euros any more seriously in THIS matter than you do in any other.

Thankyou. I didn’t know that about the historical etc about the names of the continents…

I just hope that in 30 million years time when the South American Continent has moved far far away from the North American Continent due to Plate drifting that one day perhaps the IOC will change the flag to have the 6th ring and will recognise that America is made up of 2 continents geographically speaking.

Or perhaps Humans had used up all the resources of this planet many millions of years before and have moved on to consume and pillage other planets elsewhere in the Galaxy.


Actually, the idea is that every nation’s flag contains at least one of the colors in the Olympic flag.

Hmm, can you really consider Africa to be part of the same landmass as Eurasia since the Suez Canal was dug. As I understand it, the Suez is really just a big, long ditch (the Panama Canal has several sets of locks). I would imagine there are bridges, but does that count when you’re talking about connecting continents?

And still, that’s a damn lot of digging just to cover up the goof of some flag designer.

IIRC, Qatar’s flag is brown and white, which is not on the flag. (Though I don’t know if they are a participating nation.)

Qatar is most definitely a member of the IOC. The country has been the site of many all-Asia sporting competitions, particulary in soccer.

You can contact the Qatar National Olympic Committee by checking out this link:

Perhaps they were counting the background of the Olympic flag :slight_smile:

But did Qatar’s flag exist before the Olympic flag?

Each ring represents a specific continent[ul]
[li]red=America (because Native Americans have red skin)[/li][li]black=Africa (because Africans have black skin)[/li][li]yellow=Asia (because Asians have yellow skin)[/li][li]green=Australia (because Australians have green skin :D)[/li]blue=Europe (because Europeans have blue skin :eek: )[/ul]see the following for more Olympic symbolism: http://www.southcom.com.au/~jennifert/Games/rings.html