British athletes are objecting after the Union Flag was left off the new kit released in advance of the 2015 World Championships of Athletics in Beijing, China. The hashtag #BringBackTheFlag is now gaining traction on Twitter.
The country’s Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford called the move a “terrible choice”, and was joined by a chorus of disapproval online, as kit creators UK Athletics stood by their decision.
It is first time since the 1970s that the Union Flag has not appeared on a Union Flag athletics kit.
The BBC reports that Scottish steeplechase runner Eilish McColgan agreed, highlighting the fact the flag has been replaced by the logo of UK Athletics, the governing body of athletics in the United Kingdom. She said, “it looks like you’re representing British Athletics instead of GB”.
The move is the equivalent of removing the famous “three lions” from the England football kit and replacing it with the logo for the Football Association.
— Greg Rutherford (@GregJRutherford) August 13, 2015
McColgan said: “It’s unfair for athletes not supported by UK Athletics to have to wear it. It doesn’t make any sense. Bring back the flag,” adding during a radio interview, “I think it’s a little bit disappointing to see the flag is absent from the kit. Don’t get me wrong I would quite happily compete in a bin bag if it meant representing Great Britain in the World Championships.” “I think it’s just a shame that it’s been replaced by a company logo and a British Athletics logo.” Double Olympic winner Dame Kelly Holmes tweeted: “Totally agree. The Union Jack is iconic.”
Totally agree. The Union Jack is iconic. https://t.co/c76u3VwbnJ
— Kelly Holmes (@damekellyholmes) August 13, 2015
A spokesman for British Athletics said: “In regards to the new kit design, we would reassure athletes and fans that the Union Flag remains an integral part of the British Athletics team kit, and is included on the majority of items worn by the team, complemented by the words Great Britain across the chest.
“The inclusion of the British Athletics team name and logo is to help create a strong team identity for the British Athletics team.
“This follows the tradition of the vast majority of other Olympic sports, such as swimming and cycling, who have used their team name and logo on kit design for years, and creates a powerful team identity.
“This approach was also adopted very successfully by TeamGB when, in 2012, they replaced the traditional Union Flag with the TeamGB logo that resonated so strongly with the British public.”
The Beijing Championships begin on the 22nd August.