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A (blown) kiss that made history: King Felipe at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics

Felipe VI of Spain

Nowadays, it is difficult to see royals competing in Olympic Games, and, with the Tokyo Summer Games underway, here is a look back at King Felipe’s history with this event. 

Let’s rewind the clock back to the 25th of July 1992, in the city of Barcelona. The Catalonian capital had been selected six years prior to host the Summer Games, in what was to be the last time both the Summer and Winter Games were hosted in the same year. 

On the evening of the hot July day, the Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc (Catalan for Montjuic’s Olympic Stadium) hosted the Opening Ceremony of the Games. Spain, as the host nation, entered the stadium last. 

By Benjamín Núñez González – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The then-Prince of Asturias was the designated flag bearer for the nation and was scheduled to compete in sailing. At 1.97m tall (one of the tallest royals in the world), and with the flag being mounted on a long pole to be visible even from afar, Felipe created the stunning “magic” moment that united the nation around the flag and the team it represented. Queen Sofía beamed with joy from the stands and even blew a kiss to her adored son when he paraded underneath the authorities’ box. 

Prince Felipe was scheduled to compete in the 1992 Summer Games in soling sailing, which was held from the 27th of July to the 4th of August in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea (in its Balearic sub-section) in front of a completely renovated Olympic port. 

It was the first time the Soling event was held in a mixed format, with boats having to compete first in a series of six fleet races and, following that, a round-robin series of match races.

Unfortunately, despite their valiant efforts, Spain placed sixth, which gave them an Olympic diploma still. 

The future King was following a sacred long-held tradition in his family by competing in the Games: both his mother, Queen Sofía, and his uncle, King Constantine of Greece, competed in sailing for the Greek team in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, with the then-Princess serving as a substitute. Infanta Cristina also competed as a sailing team member in the Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. King Juan Carlos was also a member of the Spanish sailing team during the Olympics of 1972, which were held in Munich, Germany. 

But the current King’s participation in the 1992 Games has no doubt been one of the most notable moments of that edition, with both his passion for sports (and sailing in particular) and his strong bonds with his family and their traditions being in full display. 

King Felipe is still very much involved in the Spanish sports panorama, regularly watching matches and granting audiences to sports personalities. The Tokyo 2020 flag bearer for the Spanish team, swimmer Mireia Belmonte, was also an invited guest to King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s inauguration reception at the Royal Palace on the day the King took the throne.