This song was written especially by Bjork for the 2004 Athens Olympics Opening Ceremony, after a request by the International Olympic Committee. At first the Icelandic singer struggled to write a suitably Olympian lyric, so she called Sjón, an Icelandic poet who had previously collaborated with her on songs such as "Isobel" from her second album Homogenic. They came up with a lyric from the ocean's point of view.
Bjork performed the song at the Olympic opening ceremony immediately following the Parade of Nations for an estimated broadcast audience of 4.5 billion. Speaking before her performance, she said:
"I am incredibly honored to have been asked to write a song and sing it at the Olympics. The song is written from the point of view of the ocean that surrounds all the land and watches over the humans to see how they are doing after millions of years of evolution. It sees no borders, different races or religion which has always been at the core of these."
The track is composed purely of human vocals and in addition to Bjork also features The London Choir.
The song was a late addition to Björk's sixth studio album Medúlla. The Icelandic singer called up beatboxer Shlomo to do a techno tango beat for the recording. He recalled to Uncut magazine in 2017:
"She had been commissioned to write 'Oceania' for the Athens Olympics and had already recorded it with piano. She was totally in awe of Sjon, who had written the words, and she explained that it's a song sung from the ocean to the rest of the world. It wasn't going to go on the album; but when she was in London mixing Medulla, she decided it was, which meant it had to be re-recorded, because the whole album was vocal. She wanted to get me to do something I wouldn't normally do, which is what a true collaborator does. She said, 'Can you do a techno rumba? Or an industrial sounding samba?'"
This was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 47th Grammy Awards.