United States

It's a Grand Old Flag in the US Olympic Team's Logo

Team USA's logo sports a 13-star flag

There are fewer stars on the U.S. Olympic Team's logo than there are competing in Rio, not to mention Old Glory.

Look closely at the American flag on the jacket that Michael Phelps & Co. wear, or other Team USA logos, and you'll see that it sports just 13 stars, not the 50 on the flag that's been hoisted 72 times and counting for medal ceremonies at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Six years ago, the U.S. Olympic Committee decided that 50 stars would not fit cleanly when miniaturized for the six-year-old logo and opted for the 13-star flag representing the original American colonies, to The Chicago Tribune.

"We use the 13-star, which is an official American flag, on our logo because of sizing," Lisa Baird, the USOC's chief marketing officer, told the newspaper.

The 13-star flag is in fact a legal United States flag and mandates the same respect as the modern 50-star flag, the Tribune reported. Though the flag may change, its predecessors are not stripped from recognition as an official U.S. banner.

According to a U.S. Flag website, it wasn't until 1912 when size proportions and an official design mandating the stars form horizontal rows were established for the U.S. flag. An earlier 1818 Act had directed the flag feature 13 stripes and that a new star be added on the Fourth of July after a new state joins the union.

The 50-star flag does make an appearance on some Team USA uniforms. The U.S. wrestling team, for example, is wearing singlets adorned with the current flag, the Tribune reported.

The 13-star flag on the U.S. Olympic Team logo isn't the only vintage American flag being worn at Rio.

Polo Ralph Lauren designed Team USA's opening and closing ceremony uniforms, and it's selling some shirts with a 48-star flag as part of its Official Team USA Collection, Buzzfeed reported. That flag was used for 47 years, until Alaska and Hawaii were added to make a 50-state union in 1959.

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