Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What's in a flag?

OK to the Olympics at Beijing will not be allowing any regional flag etc if it is not part of the recognised country that participants are presenting. There goes the colourful array you'd expect in the cycling road races as the Basque or French departmental flags are a tradition at the Tour de France. Should an American senator turn up at the game would he not be allowed to wear a pin of their States flag only the star and stripes. You see what is black and white in China is grey for the rest of us.

Let's look at just one of the sports I've taken part in shall we, in this case we'll take bowls, not an Olympic sport sadly but one that will illustrate my point.

In bowls I have won titles with the world North Irish in the title. Plus I've represented the Northern Irish Civil Service therefore this would be the flag:

Northern Irish flag
But in the same year I've also won tournaments with the word Irish in them and reached the later stages of Irish indoor championships which I've I'd won through would have meant me representing under this flag:

Irish Tricolour As a Civil Servant I actually won a British title therefore this flag:

Union FlagBowls is also one of those sports where your nationality is decided by the affiliation of the club side that you play for rather than you own therefore I've also be eligible to play, if I'd been or ever will be selected under these flags as well.

St. George's Flag

Now I could have also represented two of those flags at the Olympics, which would have left me with a potential dilemma should I have gold medalled at say Beijing, where I'd have only been able to celebrate wrapped in my national flag. For as you can see I'm more diverse than the criteria for the 2008 games would allow me room to be me.

Of course the real issue is that China do not want to be reminded or for the world to be shown this flag:

Flag of Tibet

or this one:

Flag of East Turkestan You see China wishes it was homogeneous but fortunately for us, sadly for Beijing, it isn't. Therefore this Olympics is being held under a set of restrictions that try to fit us into boxes just like the Citizens of the world's most populace country without consideration that we're not all the same.

We are individuals of this world as are the athletes and supporters heading to Beijing and the citizens of China. Each deserves to have their human rights recognised even if that means not being wholly part of the nation the IOC designates them as.


Anonymous said...

Here's my take. I think we're on the same general wavelength. Perhaps you could clarify the NI flags issue, or am I being too rigid in thinking in terms of "official" flags?

Jeff said...

Belated congratulations on your bowls success Stephen.

To be fair to China, they are just enforcing existing rules. Why such a rule exists in the first place should be put under the microscope and I agree with all your points but I guess, overall, a flag's a flag for 'a that and it's not that big a deal really.

Stephen Glenn said...

LOL yeah must of it was last century Jeff.

And yeah I know the IOC have the existing rules. But the Chinese appear to be taking it to the nth degree because it suits their purposes more and will most likely enact it to spectators and anyone coming into Beijing for that matter.

Stephen Glenn said...

as for mr unionist's point obviously the Irish part of the Uk is represented on the Union flag by the St Patrick Saltire And has been since the Act of Union in 1801, even after 26 of the counties it represented formed an Independent Free State iun 1922.

The Ulster Banner is an interesting one as it was Officially the flag of the Northern Irish Parliament which has dissolved in 1973 but is still used for sporting events. I have it on a couple of winners badges. It is also still the flag Northern Ireland parades under for the Commonwealth Games but of course is contentious for the obvious reasons.

Malc said...

Good balanced piece Stephen. we all know why the IOC is planning on policing it so heavily this time round. An interesting debate to be had though... we should find out what Lord Foulkes thinks.

Stephen Glenn said...

Thanks Malc. As you may be able to detect from this and previous postings I abhor the politicising of flags. It's what I grew up with and want I'd rather see taken out of the equation.


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