Olympic Flag Guide - Sochi 2014

Olympic Flag Guide - Sochi 2014

Flags have been a lifelong obsession of mine, and I thought it would be fitting to again write on the very event that sparked my love of flags: the Olympic Parade of Nations.Before the last Olympics I wrote an article outlining the various changes to national colors that had occurred since the last Olympiad so that everyone might be better prepared for identifying the flags in the Parade of Nations. Here I shall chronicle the momentous vexillological changes that have taken place in recent years. 

Current Flag of Belarus
Don't worry! I too was taken aback by the stark changes that Belarus has made to its colors. It is virtually unrecognizable from the previous flag, and is clearly reflective of the sweeping changes and political reforms that characterize the Belarusian nation. This flag debuted at the London Olympics after the official change in February 2012, though most people were probably so entirely confused by the new design that they failed to recognize the flag as that of Belarus. 
1995-2012 Flag
For those of you who are entirely less detail oriented, note that Belarus extended the red part of their pattern design on the left rather than the former's white margin on the edge of the pattern. There shall be no more margins in Belarus. Print all the way to the edge of the page. Margins are contrary to the collective good. 
The pattern was designed in 1917 and is supposed to be evocative of traditional woven cloth patterns used in Belarus, which are in turn derived from local flowers and plants. 

Independent Olympic Athletes

     The distinction of Independent Olympic Athletes has allowed men and women to compete in the Olympic games in the face of various circumstances that would prevent them from participating under their chosen flag. Whether it be the failings or nonexistance of their national olympic committee, or other political circumstances, qualifying athletes have throughout Olympic history been afforded the opportunity to compete. Famously athletes from the Netherlands Antilles compete under this title to differentiate themselves from Dutch monarchial tyranny since their islands lost autonomy earlier the year prior and lost status in the Olympics. South Sudan's athletes were allowed to compete as Independent Athletes at the 2012 games because their country had not yet formed it's olympic committee. 

       For Sochi 2014 watch out for four Indian skiers who will compete as Independent Olympic athletes, whom march under the standard Olympic flag in the Parade of Nations. The Indian Olympic Association's status was revoked by the International Olympic Committee in December 2012 due to some discrepancy in their election process, though these four skiers had already qualified to compete at Sochi. India insists on trying to hold elections before the games to allow their athletes to compete under the Tiranga, but the OIC set elections to be held two days after the Sochi games, and the Indian athletes will compete under the Olympic rings instead. 
 Skier  and Luger Shiva Keshavan from Himachal Pradesh, India  

      So note these Independent Athletes as they compete under the Olympic rings in the true spirit of international harmony at the Olympic games. Independent Athletes have only ever medaled at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, by three shooters from Former Yugoslavia.

The Taiwan Question

Chinese Taipei - Taiwan, or the Republic of China, officially competed at the Olympics from 1932-1976 under her own name and colors. In 1979, it was decided that the contestable nature of the name "Republic of China" violated the Olympic Charter and, seemingly under the pressure of the People's Republic of China, Taiwan was prevented from competing in the Olympics with their official name. Today, Taiwan competes under this white flag bearing the blue sky and white sun of the ROC flag and is referred to during the Olympics as Chinese Taipei, a politically ambiguous name that both the PRC and ROC agreed upon in 1980. 


There were recent flag changes to Myanmar, Malawi, and Libya but these nations will not send athletes to compete at Sochi.