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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Olympics and Flags; Part-II

.....Continued from earlier issue.
 FLAGS in Olympiads: Facts, Ecstasies, and Agonies
Flag faux pas at the Games
Even before the formal opening of the London 2012 Games, there was kick off row over flag. The North Korean  rightfully protested displaying  South Korean flag alongside their women soccer players at the Glasgow venue.
Interestingly though North Korea and South Korea, the two countries' teams marched together under the Unification Flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and, the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens,
Taiwan expressed anger after the Olympic organizers said the island’s National flag  had been taken down from London’s display on 27 July 2012 as demanded by the Chinese embassy. The National flag was removed from a  row  hanging over Regent Street, and replaced with that of the Taiwan’s Olympic Committee. 
 Gate-crasher in Indian Contingent
A mystery woman (later, identified from Bangaluru, India) was found gate-crashed into the Indian contingent’s march-past walking besides India’s Flag-bearer Sushil Kumar on the opening day of London 2012 Games.
India’s Flag Bearers
Balbir Singh representing Field Hockey was selected for two consecutive Olympic Games first in 1952 Helsinki Games and the again in 1956 Melbourne Games
  Balbir Singh and Gurdev Singh of India feature in a stamp issued by Dominican Republic in 1958. Balbir Singh is on the right on the stamp image. Gurdev Singh is on the left.


Gurbachan Singh Randhawa (Athlete), Tokyo 1964

 Zafar Iqbal (Field Hockey), Los Angeles, 1984
 Kartar Singh Dhillon (Wrestling); Seoul 1988
Shiney Abraham-Wilson (Athlete), Barcelona 1992
Pargat Singh (Field Hockey) carried the National flag at the centenary Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996
Leander Paes (Tennis), Sydney 2000
Anju George (Athlete), Athens 2004
The Unforgettable Salute at the XIX Olympiad, Mexico 1968
The Black Panther Salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics was a protest made by the African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos; the athletes raised fist gesture at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. The Australian competitor, Peter Norman, also wore a human rights badge on his shirt during the ceremony to show his support to the two Americans. The event was one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games. Tommie Smith stated in his autobiography, Silent Gesture, that the gesture was not a "Black Power" salute, but in fact a "human rights salute".
  Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, "Angrier, Nastier, Uglier", instead of "Faster, Higher, Stronger". Back home, they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.

Changing Flags in Opening and Closing Ceremonies

North Rhodesia flew their distinctive colonial flag during Tokyo 1964 opening ceremony, but came out with their very own independent Zambian National flag on the closing day when the country’s name also changed to Zambia.
Similarly, Athletes from East Germany and West Germany competed together as the United Team of Germany from 1956–1964. It was for the last time flown in the  opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games. However,  both the German teams chose to display their distinctive National flags during the closing ceremony.
In Poor Tastes
Beginning in 1968, Olympic officials have dealt harshly with any kind of protest during or after an event.
But exactly after four years another controversy arose during Medal presentation ceremony of the Field Hockey in Munich 1972 Olympic received jeers from around the world. After all, 11 Pakistani players wound up with lifetime suspensions.
Convinced that they (Pakistanis) had been cheated  of victory against West Germans in the final, the Pakistan team ran amok, They refused to face the West German Flag when the national anthem played during medal presentation ceremony. The result: a ban for life. Which, after a high-level apology, were reduced to two . Reports also mention that the Pakistani players handled their silver medals disrespectfully. According to the story in The Washington Post, the team's manager apologized, by saying, "We are the victims. If there is some doubt in the mind of the Germans about the misunderstanding, then I apologize. The boys were only mad at the umpiring. These boys are champions, and they meant no disrespect either to the German people, the government or the flag."
Star Spangled Banner Disrespect
The 400m gold and silver medalists Matthews and Collett of the US  were given a hostile reception by the crowd as they misbehaved and adopted a lax attitude on the winner’s podium. While the ‘Star Spangled banner’ played and the national flags were raised, the two athlete casually chatted to each other. The IOC and the US Olympic Federation banned them from taking part in any future Olympic events. 
Munich Massacre,1972
 The World was Shocked
 Munich Olympic played host to the most infamous ‘Black September’ group which killed two Israeli athletes  and took another nine as hostages at the Olympic village, just six days before the end of the Games. In a bid to save the hostages the German police storm the gang which ultimately ensued a bloodbath in which all the hostages, five of the ‘Black September’ terrorists along with one policeman and a helicopter pilot were all killed.
The Olympic Movement could not be snuffed out by this lethal hit. The outgoing President of the IOC Avery Brundage declared,""The Games must go on. We cannot allow a handful of terrorists to destroy this nucleus of International Cooperation and Goodwill that we have in the Olympic Movement.”
 < San Marino honours  IOC President Brundage

The picture at right dated September 6, 1972 showing the Olympic flag waving at half-mast during the commemoration ceremony for the victims of a hostage-taking of Israeli athletes during the Munich 1972 Olympic Games in the Olympic stadium. Photo: AFP

To be  continued ......


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