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Olympic chiefs reject call for EU flag at Tokyo opening ceremony


Team EU may deserve a gold medal for trying its luck — but Olympic chiefs have rejected a request to feature the European Union flag at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo games.

EU officials had asked the games’ organizers to let the Slovenian team carry an EU flag as well as the country’s national flag at Friday’s ceremony. Slovenia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it wouldn’t accept the proposal, made in a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach from European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša.

An IOC spokesperson said that “an Olympic team can only use one flag, one emblem and one anthem adopted by its National Olympic Committee and approved by the IOC Executive Board.”

“For obvious reasons, there are no exceptions allowed, as the IOC would then face numerous requests from numerous institutions who like the European Union, share the values which are at the core of the Olympic Games,” the spokesperson said.

In their letter published on Sunday, Schinas and Janša said letting Slovenian athletes carry the EU flag would make them “ambassadors for European unity and the values underpinning our Union, which match those of the Olympic movement.”

But the IOC said that all the sportspeople at the games would reflect the common values of the EU and the Olympics.

“When the athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team come together in Tokyo, they will send a powerful message of peace, solidarity and resilience to the world. The IOC shares these values of solidarity and peace with the European Union,” the IOC spokesperson said. 

Postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and now set to take place largely without spectators, the Olympic Games in Tokyo run from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, August 8.

Ali Walker contributed reporting.




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