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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: blue, yellow, black, green, and red -- 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 World War I, 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.
In 1986, the IOC officially decided to add gaps between the Olympic rings to be able to reproduce the rings as accurately as possible using the available print technology of the time.
As approved in 2010 by the IOC Executive Board, the official version of the Olympic rings returned to its original, seamlessly interlaced design, fulfilling Coubertin's vision.
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.