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A release dove, also called a white pigeon, is a domestic rock dove (Columba livia domestica). It is named because it is released during events, such as public ceremonies, weddings and funerals. Bred for small size and white coloration, the ritual of releasing doves in the Olympics originated in 1896 when dives were released as part of the closing ceremony. The ritual became an official part of the opening ceremony in the 1920 Antwerp games. The ritual was altered to be purely symbolic after the doves released in the 1988 Seoul Olympics landed on the Olympic Torch and were burnt alive when it was lit.
Release dove