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Washington University proudly displays Olympic rings after waiting 105 years

St. Louis officials had to get special permission to display the rings because when the games took place here, they had yet to be adopted by the Olympics

ST. LOUIS — With the 2020 Summer Olympic Games starting its first full week of competition on Monday, what better way to reflect on the history of the games than in St. Louis?

St. Louis is the birthplace of the modern games. In 1904, games in our city were the first to feature medals for first, second, and third places. Plus, boxing and the decathlon debuted in the Lou. Now, there are pieces of olden days left in St. Louis to let the world know our place in history.

The “spectacular” is just steps away from the historic Francis Field, where the 1904 Olympics were held. You’ll find the Olympic Rings, the symbol of the games. The five interlocking circles – blue, yellow, black, red, yellow, and green – colors that appear in the flags of every nation on the planet.

The stainless-steel rings sit on Washington University’s campus. They stand nine feet tall and are 16 feet wide. The shape of the granite that they sit on represents the heights of first, second, and third place podiums.

The rings weren’t so easy to get to St. Louis. Local officials had to get special permission to display them because when the games took place here, the rings had yet to be adopted by the Olympics. 

They were not created until 1913. It wasn’t for another 105 years, in 2018, when they were finally put into place in St. Louis – giving proper recognition to one of only three U.S. cities to ever host the summer games. 

Los Angeles and Atlanta are the other cities to do so. In 2028, Los Angeles will host for a third time.

KSDK's Megan Mays contributed to this report.