The Games of the VII Olympiad were awarded to Antwerp, following its bid submitted in 1914: a tribute to the heroism of Belgium during the First World War.
They were opened by Pierre de Coubertin and His Majesty Albert I, King of the Belgians.
In more than one way, this edition marked the history of the Olympic Games.
FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE OLYMPIC FLAG, UNITY
Although Coubertin designed the interlaced rings, the visual identity of the Olympic Movement, as early as 1913, it was not until seven years later that the flag flew in a stadium for the first time.
The flag expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement, the union of the five continents and the gathering of athletes from all over the world. Coubertin himself referred to it in his book “Around the VII Olympiad”:
…the appearance of the Olympic flag, whose five interlaced, multicoloured rings on a white background evoke the five parts of the world united by Olympism, and the colours of all nations can be found there.”
One of the Olympic flags used during the Antwerp Games is kept in the collections of the Sportimonium, a sports museum located in Hofstade (Belgium) and a member of the Olympic Museums Network (OMN). © Sportimonium
FIRST OLYMPIC OATH, RESPECT
It was pronounced by Belgian fencer Victor Boin, a hero of the Great War, on behalf of all the competitors present, swearing that they would respect the rules, the judges and their opponents.
“We swear that we present ourselves at the Olympic Games as loyal competitors, respecting the rules that govern them and wishing to participate in them in a spirit of chivalry, for the honour of our countries and for the glory of sport.” © IOC
FIRST RELEASE OF DOVES, PEACE
Coming just after the war, the ceremony at the Antwerp Games became a plea for peace, as shown in this image of soldiers in uniform releasing doves, each wearing a ribbon in the colours of the nations.
EMBODYING THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT
The Antwerp edition saw the introduction of rituals closely linked to the values that underpin the Olympic spirit.
All these references make the Olympic Games an exceptional event that stands out from other big sports events.
With the lighting of the flame, introduced in 1936, they are now an integral part of the protocol of all the Games’ opening ceremonies.
And it is indeed “all united under the same flag” that the Olympic Movement, past and present, seeks to contribute to building a better world through sport.