EU outrage after Italy suggests Brussels should field single team for Olympics

EU's solution to problems 'is more EU' says Oulds

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Officials in Brussels asked the Olympics Games’ organisers to let the Slovenian team carry an EU flag as well as the country’s national flag at the opening ceremony. Slovenia currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. However, 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: “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.”

In their letter published, Mr Schinas and Mr 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.

The IOC spokesperson added: “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 row over the EU flag has made people wonder whether Brussels could ever field a single team for the Olympics.

In a recent tweet, Italian party Piú Europa (More Europe), a liberal and European federalist party, seemed to push for the idea.

They wrote: “If there were the United States of Europe… ” and attached a picture of the medal table with the EU featuring on top.

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The tweet was not met with positive comments, though.

One user said: “This would imply that all European athletes of all national teams present today were part of the European delegation, and it would not be possible.

“We would probably be among the first, yes, but not with all those medals.”

Another one added: “Explain to these idiots that by the same principle the number of athletes competing would decrease…

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“They want to be a United States of Europe and do not know how to make proportions.”

A third one joked: “If there was a United Federation of Planets, the whole galaxy would be ours.”

In 2008, Manolis Mavrommatis, a former Greek Christian Democrat and member of the China delegation, said that competing under an EU flag “would add many messages of unity to our Union. It would be magnificent.”

However, he went on “imagine if we had Olympic Games with five continents, each one competing on behalf of all of its countries.

“It’s a good idea… But it would not be the Olympics.”

Greek Socialist Katerina Batzeli added: “The main value of the Olympic Games has always been and should remain fair competition and the spirit of the Olympic truce.

“Irrespective of whether European athletes compete in national teams or a single EU one, what is truly important is the message the EU should be promoting for athletics and culture.”

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