Kangaroo flag at athletes village causes IOC flap
Published Friday, February 5, 2010 10:22PM PST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:54PM PDT
A giant flag depicting an Australian boxing kangaroo will be welcome in B.C.'s second-largest city if it is ordered removed from the Vancouver athletes village, the mayor of Surrey said Friday.
Flap over the giant green and yellow flag, which was erected on Sunday, began after a member of the International Olympic Committee toured the False Creek site and expressed concern over the banner's boisterous presence over the village.
A number of other prominent banners, including British national flags, are hung over the buildings.
An IOC spokesperson said Friday they would "look at it and take a considered view" over the next few days and then make a decision about whether to formally ask the Australian Olympic Committee to remove it.
Dozens of Australians crowded a busy street corner at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge during Friday morning's rush hour to offer support for the Australian Olympic team and the flag flap that has grabbed international headlines.
In pictures: Aussie flag flap
Waving Australian flags and bearing signs reading ‘Send Vegemite' and ‘Don't take me kangaroo down sport,' supporters said pulling down the flag would "be a bloody shame."
We're very concerned our Roo is going to pulled down," said Australian Max Madden.
"We'd like to see him stay up there."
Mike Tancred, media director for the Australian Olympic teams, said the flag has been at every athletes village since the 2000 Sydney Games.
"It's a tradition," he said.
"It says what Australia is. We're a small nation that's feisty and that's what we're all about. The athletes love it, the young people love it -- everyone loves it."
Tancred said his country's Olympic committee is not using the flag for monetary gain.
"I think someone at the IOC feels this is too commercial. This isn't some kind of ambush marketing."
The boxing kangaroo is the mascot for a flagship education program in Australia advocating fair play and Olympic ideals.
Tancred said the Aussie team would take the flag down if ordered by the IOC, and would consider moving it to Surrey.
"We're ready to welcome the world and we'd be honoured to recognize the Australian athletes who have come all this way to join us," Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said in a statement.
"I'm also going to ask mayors in other cities across the region to join us in flying the Australian team's flag for a day and celebrate our friends from Down Under."