Olympic Games ceremonies were an integral part of the Ancient Olympic Games. Some of the elements of the modern ceremonies harken back to the Ancient Games from which the Modern Olympics draw their ancestry. An example of this is the prominence of Greece in both the opening and closing ceremonies. During the 2004 Games, the medal winners received a crown of olive branches, which was a direct reference to the Ancient Games, in which the victor's prize was an olive wreath. The various elements of the ceremonies are mandated by the Olympic Charter and cannot be changed by the host nation. Even the artistic portion of the opening and closing ceremonies must meet the approval of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The ceremonies have evolved over the centuries. Ancient Games incorporated ceremonies to mark the beginning and ending of each successive game. There are both similarities and differences between the ancient Olympic ceremonies and their modern counterparts. While the presentation of the Games has evolved with improvements in technology and the desire of the host nations to showcase their own artistic expression, the basic events of each ceremony have remained unchanged. The presentation of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies continue to increase in scope, scale and expense with each successive celebration of the Games, but they are still steeped in tradition.