The anthem for the Olympic Games is an ever-present feature of the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics. It is played when the Olympic flag is raised, during the Opening Ceremony of the Games, and also when the Games are closed and in some other situations.
- Photo: the anthem being played in Squaw Valley. Source: olympic.org
And it needs no translation!
The Olympic anthem was created on the eve of the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens: the Greek opera composer Spiro Samaras came up with the music, and the words were provided by the Greek poet KonstantinosPalamas. It's interesting that Pierre de Coubertin took an instant liking to the anthem when he heard it at the opening ceremony of the first Olympics, even though he didn't speak a word of Greek and therefore couldn't understand the words. The anthem was only officially approved in 1958. The sheet music for the anthem is stored in the IOC headquarters in Lausanne.
The olympic anthem replaces a national anthem.
In Albertville, in 1992, the Olympic anthem was first played as a national anthem: the Unified Team representing the CIS, which did not have a national flag, used the Olympic rings as their flag instead, and when medals were won by athletes from the former Soviet Union, the Olympic anthem was played. Incidentally, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia had formed their own national teams, but some athletes from these countries competed for the Unified Team. A host of athletes from the former Republic of Yugoslavia, which was breaking up at the time, also competed under the Olympic flag as "independent Olympic competitors".
"Barcelona" - the eternal anthem!
In addition to the official anthem, each Olympic Games also features a song written by popular musicians especially for the winter competitions. In a contest held not long before the start of the Olympic competitions, a select jury chooses the best song, which is then performed at the Opening Ceremony and becomes the musical accompaniment to the entire Olympic Games. The best-known Olympic anthem of this kind is probably "Barcelona" — a joint composition by the opera singer Montserrat Caballe and the rock-star Freddie Mercury. After composing the song in just a couple of months in 1988, Caballe and Mercury only performed it twice in public; the third time was supposed to have been the Opening Ceremony for the Barcelona Olympics. However, in November 1991 Mercury's life was tragically cut short.
At Caballe's insistence, the song was nevertheless performed at the opening ceremony. The solution that the organizers came up with was pretty unusual: the Spanish diva performed her part of the song live, from the center of the arena, and the voice of Freddie Mercury, recorded way back in 1988, was played through speakers placed all round the stadium.