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The famous Olympics rainbow rings symbol was designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It depicts five interlocking rings in five colours, each one said to represent the five continents. Along with the white background, the Olympic flag contains the colours of all national flags at the time. The use of the symbol in an Olympic game was delayed by the First World War, and the rings could first be seen during the 1920 games in Antwerp. Being born before the advent of modern corporate branding, early use of the symbol varied somewhat. For example, the rings are noticeably further apart in Olympic emblems from the 1930s. Afterwards, the specifications have been tightened. They are now subject to strict rules which regulate exactly how the rings are placed and what color tones to use.
Each Olympic Game has a unique emblem created for it. Since at least the 1932 Los Angeles games, the emblem has included the Olympic rings. The emblem is usually presented 4-5 years ahead of the game, well before the preceding games. The Olympic Games are awarded well in advance through a process were presumptive cities are invited to bid to host the games. In the present-day bidding process, all applicant cities create a logo to symbolise the bid. The rules for these logos are strict, and they need approval from the IOC. At first, the logos have to include the words "Applicant City" and are forbidden to include the Olympic rings. Once a bid is shortlisted as a "Candidate City", it is allowed to create what the IOC calls an emblem. The emblem consists of the bid logo with the Olympic rings added. The term "Applicant City" is swapped for "Candidate City". If a bid wins the right to host the games, they bid logo usually remains in use as an interim logo, minus the words "Candidate City". The bid logos aren't used to represent the games once they take place. The National Olympic Committees (NOC) also have their own emblems, consisting of a logo of national relevance and the Olympic rings.
| Summer Olympics|
Athens 1896 | Paris 1900 | St. Louis 1904 | London 1908 | Stockholm 1912 | Antwerp 1920 | Paris 1924 | Amsterdam 1928 | Los Angeles 1932 | Berlin 1936 | London 1948 | Helsinki 1952 | Melbourne 1956 | Mexico 1968 | Munich 1972 | Montréal 1976 | Moscow 1980 | Los Angeles 1984