Get ready to watch the Opening Ceremony: Release of doves
It is believed that homing pigeons were used during the ancient Olympic Games as a way to alert families and villages of their hometown Olympian's victory, so to allow enough time to prepare a hero's welcome for the returning athlete.
The release of birds as a sign of peace and freedom started in 1896 in Athens, and officially became part of the Olympic Opening Ceremony program at the 1920 Antwerp Games. In 1936, German organizers decided to release the birds prior to the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. This procedure was changed after Seoul's Opening Ceremony in 1988, however, after more than a few released fowl chose to rest atop the Olympic cauldron as it was lit.
After the unfortunate mishap in Seoul, live doves were released well before the lighting of the cauldron in Barcelona in 1992.
In recent years it has become common for the release of doves to be handled symbolically rather than literally. In London in 2012, English rock band Arctic Monkeys performed The Beatles' 1969 chart-topping song "Come Together" as cyclists in illuminated dove costumes pedaled in formation around the Olympic stadium.