Is There a Medal-Stand Script?

There's something very odd about the medal ceremonies at this Olympics. Is someone choreographing these things? Used to be: Step up, receive medal, play anthem, wave to crowd, go home (as that feel-good Coke commercial showing Olympians and Special Olympians receiving medals attests).

But this Olympics has added another semi-obligatory rite. In the swimming events, it went like this: Anthem ends, gold-medal winner invites bronze and silver medalists to top of podium. They put their arms around each other and wave to the crowd. All raise their flower bouquets. Then they bring their medals up to their faces and smile for the cameras (optional behavior: kiss or bite the medal). Then they leave the podium, walk around pool, and throw their flowers to friends or parents in stands.

The track events seem to have their own post-event ritual, too. Winner jogs past the finish line, gets flag of his/her country, does victory lap with flag stretched overhead, or flopped around his/her shoulders.

Nothing wrong with all this, mind you. I'm just sayin'. But who wrote this script and why does everyone seem to follow it?

By Paul Farhi  |  August 18, 2008; 3:37 PM ET
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Comments

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Hasn't there always been a script. Although the little girl who won Bronze in the All-Around wasn't real enthusiastic about the process, no matter how kind the US was to her.

Posted by: CALSGR8 | August 19, 2008 12:24 AM

I agree, it's weird and annoying how one person's whimsy turns into a pointless tradition.

Posted by: William | August 19, 2008 3:20 AM

I'm not an Olympics historian, so I don't know the origins of these pseudo-rituals. But for a runner, it's advisable to walk for a few minutes after a race to cool down the muscles and gradually lower the heart rate. So the medalist picking up the flag and doing a victory lap, it seems to me, is killing two birds with one stone, combining the ceremonial (celebrating the medal and honoring one's country) with the practical (cooling down).

Posted by: Drew | August 19, 2008 9:46 AM

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