IOC says Russian fan flag-waving ‘cannot be prohibited’ at PyeongChang
Spectators at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be allowed to wave the Russian tricolor flag in the stands following worries over a possible IOC ban, the organization confirmed Thursday.
An IOC (International Olympic Committee) statement says the showing of flags from any recognized National Olympic Committee (NOC) by a spectator or fan “cannot be prohibited,” irrespective of whether or not that country is serving a suspension.
“The showing of the flag of a country of a recognized NOC, even if suspended, by an individual spectator or ordinary sports fan during the Games cannot be prohibited,” the statement read.
Fears the Russian flag would be barred from being displayed by fans during the Games, which begin on February 9, had arisen due to an IOC list of ‘Prohibited and Restricted Items at Competition and non-Competition Venues’ that included “flags of non-participating countries.”
Russia is banned from taking part in PyeongChang, but its athletes who can prove their clean career history may take part under a neutral flag, as an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR). National Russian symbols and emblems were also prohibited during the Games under the ban.
Despite the IOC proscribing flags of suspended nations in the original publication, there is still the possibility Russian flags could feature at the Games’ closing ceremony should Russia comply with IOC demands.
Although the organization confirmed flag-waving as permissible at the Games, the IOC did issue a warning in the same statement that it would monitor fan support, to be sure it did not cross over into “political demonstration.”
“However, should this appear to be an organized political demonstration the IOC will take this into consideration in its monitoring system for the implementation of the IOC Executive Board Decision of the 5th December 2017,” the statement said.