The International Olympic Committee has announced that one of the most symbolic and important parts of the Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony – the Olympic oath – has been significantly adapted in order to “highlight the importance of solidarity, inclusion, non-discrimination and equality.”
The new wording of the Olympic oath results from a set of recommendations drawn up by the IOC Athletes’ Commission on athlete expression. The goal is to “increase opportunities for athlete expression during the Olympic Games.” The recommendations were approved by the IOC Executive Board in April.
The Tokyo Games’ Opening Ceremony will be broadcast live on Friday July 23 on NBC across all time zones starting at 6:55 a.m. ET/3:55 a.m. PT.
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The Olympic oath was first recited at the Opening Ceremony of the 1920 Antwerp Games. The 1920 text was written by the founder of the modern Olympic Games Baron Pierre de Coubertin and read: “We swear. We will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honour of our country and for the glory of sport.”
The oath has evolved over time to reflect the changing nature of competition. Until 1984, the oath takers swore upon their nation’s flag. Since then, they take the oath holding the Olympic Flag. (In Ancient Greek Games, competitors swore an oath beside a statue of Zeus.)
The new wording of the Olympic oath is:
We promise to take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules and in the spirit of fair play, inclusion and equality. Together we stand in solidarity and commit ourselves to sport without doping, without cheating, without any form of discrimination. We do this for the honour of our teams, in respect for the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, and to make the world a better place through sport.
The oath is taken by a symbolic group of oath-takers. The number in that group will be extended from three to six in Tokyo. It will be comprised of two athletes, two coaches and two judges.
IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry said of the changes:
We Olympians are role models and ambassadors. We stand together to send out to the world a powerful message of equality, inclusion, solidarity, peace and respect. The Olympic oath-takers selected for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be fully gender equal and will take the Olympic oath on behalf of all the Olympians, judges, coaches and officials, who they represent, in the true spirit of solidarity.
The IOC also announced that all participating National Olympic Committees “will have the opportunity to be represented by a minimum of one female and one male athlete at the Games.”
The IOC Executive Board changed the IOC’s protocol guidelines to allow one male and one female athlete to jointly carry their country’s flag during the Opening Ceremony. The board encouraged all countries to use this opportunity to send “a strong message of inclusive and gender-equal Olympic Games where women and men have equal prominence.”