Olympic Oath

The Olympic Oath is a pledge to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship and is spoken at the Opening Ceremonies by representatives of the host country on behalf of all competitors and officials. In the July 1906 edition of the Revue Olympique, Pierre de Coubertin referred to the urgent need to introduce into the few but very important Olympic Ceremonies an athletes’ oath of fairness and impartiality. The protocol was first introduced at Antwerp in 1920 when the noted Belgian fencer, Victor Boin, performed the ceremony. A similar ceremony was conducted at the first Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix in 1924 when all competitors took the oath collectively, although they were led by France’s Camille Mandrillon. The first woman to take the oath was the Italian skier Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The first woman to take the oath at the Olympic Games was German track & field athlete Heidi Schüller at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Boin initially recited the following words: “We swear that we will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honor of our country and for the glory of sport.” This oath was modified slightly in 1961, when the term “swear” was replaced by “promise”, and “the honor of our country” by “the honor of our teams”, in an obvious desire to eliminate nationalism from the Games.

In 1999, the IOC 2000 Commission recommended a change to the Olympic Oath which was enacted by the IOC Session. This change added a statement to the oath in which the Olympic athletes would renounce the use of drugs in sport. The current edition of the Olympic Charter does not explicitly describe the Olympic Oath, but recent editions established the following text for the Athletes’ Oath: “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.” Since 1972, the jduges and officials have also sworn an oath, the text of which is as follows: “In the name of all the judges and officials, I promise that we shall officiate in these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship.” In 2012, a third oath was introduced, to be taken by a representative of the coaches participating in the Olympic Games.

In 2021, the Olympic Oath was again modified with the phrasing becoming, “In the name of the athletes / In the name of all judges / In the name of all the coaches and officials, 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.”