Both to commemorate what must be an incredible experience, and to show patriotism, many Olympic athletes are tattooed with the Olympic rings symbol, often along with their country's name or flag.
This trend has become so popular among some teams such as Team Canada that it has almost become a part of the Olympic experience for them — articles on Canadian Olympic efforts often start with lines like "Canadian athletes who make it to the Olympics have an unwritten tradition of getting small tattoos of the maple leaf somewhere on their bodies." (Tanya Marissen, London Free Press, Sept 5 2000)
Ms. Marissen adds,
"Swimmers usually have a small leaf subtly tattooed on their chests, right over their heart. Cyclists often have it done on their ankle."
Another article, this one in South Africa's Dispatch from Sept 9, 2000, adds,
The competition is over for 19-year-old Dufour and her teammates, who are now taking a break before going home. They headed for Sydney's Illustrated Man studio, (owned by Tony Cohen), yesterday — some to get a memento inked into her skin, others to watch. "It's a souvenir for life," said Dufour, watching 23-year-old teammate Liesbet Dreesen get the Olympic rings etched into the skin on her bikini line. Dufour wants the same design on her ankle. "Many swimmers get a tattoo. It's kind of a tradition in this sport," said another Belgian swimmer, Yseult Gervy, who came along to watch ... "I already have a tattoo" "I had an Olympic tattoo done in Atlanta," said 41-year-old swimming coach Gaastra, proudly displaying the flame etched onto his shoulder blade.
There is an absolutely huge list of athletes wearing these tattoos (type "Olympic tattoo" into a search engine for references) — they're almost the norm at this point.
This popularity has also resulted in stick-on temporary tattoos being marketed to emulate this trend. Olympic fans and Olympic hopefuls also sometimes get the tattoos.