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IOC allows Australia to keep boxing kangaroo flag in Olympic village

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Australians can hop for joy: Their boxing kangaroo is safe for the Vancouver Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee ruled Sunday that the giant kangaroo flag - the mascot for the Australian team - can remain displayed in the athletes' village for the duration of this month's Games.

The green and gold flag, which depicts a red-gloved cartoon kangaroo, has been hanging from a balcony from the Australian team's living area in the village since last Sunday.

The Australians had been under pressure to take it down because it was deemed too commercial and a registered trademark.

Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates discussed the issue with IOC president Jacques Rogge, who then sent him a letter confirming the flag could stay.

"While the IOC is of the view that the display of the boxing kangaroo at the Olympic village is a breach of the IOC rules relating to clean venues, the IOC is not going to request us to take down the boxing kangaroo flag on this occasion," Coates said.

"It will stay up the entire Olympics. It means a lot to our athletes."

Coates said the AOC was told to register the kangaroo mascot with the IOC for use at future Games.

"The IOC didn't request that the flag should come down," Coates said. "They wanted to talk about it, and we talked about it. We acknowledge we'll need to deal with it in a more formal way in the future."

IOC spokesman Mark Adams called the issue a "storm in a teacup."

"This is a sensible solution to this great conundrum of the boxing kangaroo," he said.

The flag has been displayed by the Australians since the Sydney 2000 Olympics and had not been a problem until now, Coates said.

"The world moves on, and we need to move and just cross the T's and dot the I's," he said.

Commercial imagery is not allowed at Olympic venues. National flags are usually the only banners permitted and are commonly displayed in the athletes' villages.

"We were not trying to ambush (local organizing committee) VANOC or the IOC with any licensed goods here," Coates said.

The boxing kangaroo flag was originally flown from the Australian yacht which won the America's Cup in 1983. It is now a registered trademark and used by the AOC to promote sport and fair play in schools in Australia.

Australia already has two registered Olympic emblems: a coat of arms with the Olympic rings that is displayed on athletes' uniforms, and the Australian flag with the Olympic rings.

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1 Commentscomment icon

This never should have been an issue. Isn't team spirit and country pride part of what this is all about?

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