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Olympic Award/Medal Ceremony

General Knowledge | 9-12 yrs | Interactive, Learning Pod

The Olympic games is rooted in tradition. From the ancient games, whose traditions were mostly religious to the modern games whose procedures are governed by the International Olympic Committee, there are practices that are followed every Olympiad that govern the way the games are carried out.

If sports is at the centre of the Olympic games, then the medals they give out is the circle around it. Athletes compete for the glory of being presented with a medal, either gold (for 1st place), silver (for 2nd place) or bronze (for 3rd place). Players that rank up to 8th place get a certificate known as an Olympic Diploma in recognition of making it thus far into their specific event.

If there is a tie for any of the top three places, both competitors receive equal recognition i.e. if there is a tie for first place, both athletes will receive Olympic gold.


Until 1932 the medals were awarded at the closing ceremonies with the winners wearing evening wear to receive their medals. Now, however they are given out immediately after the finals of the event. Victors may receive their medals in their country’s tracksuit, which must be approved by the IOC beforehand. This is to avoid athletes from offending any particular person or group through the use of symbols.

The victors are announced and take their place on a three-tiered rostrum after which they are given their medals by a member of the IOC. After all three athletes receive their medals, the national flags of the three winners are raised directly above them. The winner’s flag always flies the highest, with the silver and bronze medalist following in order. The national anthem of the gold medalist is played as the flags are being raised.


Athletes are not allowed to make any sign or gesture that is political in nature. One famous incident of this nature occurred during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico city when Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) gave the Black Panther power salute as their flags were being raised after the medal ceremony. They were subsequently expelled from the games but were not stripped of their medals.

Can you find out why the International Olympic committee does not allow athletes to wear any political or religious symbols during the award ceremony? There have been a few controversies in Olympic history. You might want to start your research there.

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