The Olympic flag was created under the guidance of Baron de Coubertin in 1913. It was first hoisted in Antwerp, Belgium at the 1920 Summer Olympics in the main stadium. The five rings represent the five continents of the world.
At the end of the Games, the flag could not be found and a new Olympic flag had to be made for the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. The 1924 flag then continued to be used at the Summer Olympics until the Games of Seoul 1988 when it was retired.
In 1997, at a banquet hosted by the US Olympic Committee, a reporter was interviewing Hal Haig Prieste who had won a bronze medal in platform diving as a member of the 1920 US Olympic team.
The reporter mentioned that the IOC had not been able to find out what had happened to the original Olympic flag. “I can help you with that,” Prieste said, “It’s in my suitcase.” At the end of the Antwerp Olympics, spurred on by teammate Duke Kahanamoku, he climbed a flagpole and stole the Olympic flag. For 77 years the flag was stored away in the bottom of his suitcase.
The flag was returned to the IOC by Prieste, by then 103 years old, in a special ceremony held at the 2000 Games in Sydney.The original Antwerp Flag is now on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a plaque thanking him for donating it.
Featured Image: The first olympic flag / Image: Wikimedia Commons