It’s a vexillologist’s dream, Olympics Flag Day… and there were 206 of them at the opening ceremony.
Of course the majority of them will never be seen again on the podium.
Now flags are really just the costume a country dresses itself up in.
So just like women and dresses it would never do if you turned up with your best flag.
And then you saw somebody there with the same drapery.
But that is exactly what happened at the 1936 Games in Berlin.
When Leichtenstein turned up for their first Games proudly displaying their blue/red split horizontal flag.
Only to see Games veterans Haiti flying theirs.
And so they did what every lady does… accessorise by adding a crown while Haiti added their coat of arms.
Of course the Olympics are the chance for every country and its athletes to meet people they’d never encountered before.
So just a couple of words here on some flags we’ll see a lot more of in the next couple of weeks.
Made in Japan
Japan: The Rising Sun flag is one of the most distinctive and easiest to draw… if you’re Giotto.
Japan is said to have been founded by the Sun goddess Amaterasu in the 7th Century BC.
And is an ancestor of first emperor Jimmu… and surely a relative.
China: We all associate China with the Reds but, of course, Communism only dates back 70 odd years.
Not being political here but we prefer an earlier iteration, the Yellow Dragon Flag used by the Qing Dynasty.
And persuaded George Washington to agree to five-pointed stars rather than six because that was easier to sew.
UK: So, you thought you know the story of the Union Jack, actually the Union Flag, the Jack is naval.
As was inevitably the way of it the English wanted to tuck the Scots flag up in the corner and the Jocks to have their ceoss dominate.
Until they came up with the drape we all know.
Germany: The German black, red and yellow horizontal bands derive from the 1848 Year of Revolutions.
And are inspired by the black uniforms with red facings and gold buttons of the Lutzow Free Corps who fought Napoleon.
Happy to share
Scotland and Tenerife: Vexillologists everywhere know that Scotland and Tenerife share the same flag.
But for those who need a reminder I unpicked the threads of it.
You’ll not see the Saltire fly at the Tokyo Games unless, of course, it’s draped around the shoulders of Jock winners.
That would be a twist on Olympics Flag Day.
But it should have been me, it should have been me.