Alyn Scores Victory On Saltire Ban At Olympic Games

Olympics bosses have scrapped their controversial ban on Scots carrying and waving the Saltire during games events, it was revealed last night.

They have bowed to demands from SNP European Parliament member Alyn Smith and finally agreed to allow Scotland’s national flag to be taken in to Glasgow’s Hampden Park during games football tournaments.

However, London-based games organisers are still refusing to let the Saltire fly in its traditional spot above the 52,000-seater venue while Olympics events are taking place there.

Last night Scottish MEP Alyn welcomed the partial victory but repeated his demand for the ban to be dropped altogether and the Saltire allowed to take its rightful place flying over the country’s national stadium.

"It's good to see that following my intervention, common sense has finally prevailed and Scotland's national flag will be allowed inside Hampden Park this summer,” he said.

“The possibility of a ban on the Saltire completely flies in the face of the spirit of the Olympics and has understandably turned people off purchasing tickets for the games.

“However, it's still completely ridiculous and unacceptable that Scotland’s national flag is going to be pulled down from its iconic place flying over Scotland’s national stadium.

"The Saltire normally – and quite properly - flies above Hampden 365 days of the year. Forcing it to be taken down in this way will not only anger many home-based supporters, but also disrespects our history and nationhood.

“I’m naturally pleased that I have managed to pressure the organising committee in London into allowing Scottish games fans to take their national flag in with them.

“Their agreement to give way on this just makes the ban on flying the Saltire over the stadium itself even more farcical. I hope they see this and reverse this decision too.  It would cost them nothing but earn them huge respect and goodwill.”

Hampden Park has been chosen by the Olympics organisers as one of the venues outside London where games events will take place. It will host eight matches in the football competition.

The problem over the Saltire has arisen because under the terms and conditions of ticket sales for the games, supporters are not permitted to enter any venue for any event while carrying  “flags of countries not participating in the games”.

Because all participating sportsmen and women from the UK have to compete in the Olympics solely under the Great Britain banner, Scotland is not regarded as a country and so falls foul of the rules.

Following a threat by Alyn to write to games supremo Lord Coe about the ban, organisers have mounted a climbdown over taking the Saltire into the ground – though they warn each flag taken through the turnstiles must not be too big.