Athlete Choice: Recognizing the Olympic Flag and Anthem


The Olympics are a global celebration of humanity and the spirit of doing one’s best in accordance with competing against the best in the world.  It is a great honor to represent one’s country in the Olympics and with this honor come great responsibility.  Olympism is the idea of “blending sport with culture and trying to build a peaceful and better world through sport.”  It is up to these elite athletes to demonstrate the values of the Olympics at the games. 


It is important to point out that the Olympic Charter states “The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.” This showcases the idea that we are all citizens of the world. This is why the Olympic flag and anthem are such important symbols.  Each ring on the flag represents the five major continents that compete in the modern day Olympics.  This is an important message because it applies that we are all citizens of the world and that the Olympics are a celebration of that.


Because we want these values reflected through the athletes of the games, we want to encourage that the athletes have a choice to have the Olympic flag and anthem at their medal ceremony instead of their country flag and national anthem.  This could be an option when they are filling out their registration credentials for the games, and then activated if the athlete reaches the medal stand. This demonstrates an opportunity for athletes to identify with global citizenship and unity of the world through the Olympic flag and anthem. The flag and anthem are symbols of all continents, nations, and people of all backgrounds coming together to celebrate our humanity.


The opening ceremonies of the games are one of the world’s greatest celebrations of humanity as every competing nation parades through the venue sporting their country’s flag. It would be a symbolic gesture to the peace movement if each nation could also have the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies.  This would further emphasize the important role of the Olympic flag in this celebration of humanity. 


The Olympics are much more than games, they are a test of hard work, perseverance, leadership, doing one’s best, and most of all celebration of our world citizenship.  The Olympics are a powerful event and it is important to use their power and influence to make the world a better more peaceful place.


The Olympic flag and anthem are a representation that everyone is a world citizen and that through the Olympic Games peace can be achieved. The opportunity to recognize the Olympic flag and anthem is also significant reflection on the ideals and significance of the Olympic spirit.


 Co-authored by

Mark Pomerleau, Eli Wolff and Nathaniel Mills


Brown University Olympism and Development Center


Olympism Project