Indigenous leaders want rules changed
Samantha Lane, Chris Barrett Sydney Morning Herald August 01, 2012
Indigenous leaders say the Olympic rules that outlaw Aboriginal flags at the Games should change, and have called on the Australian Olympic Committee to lobby for the longstanding protocol to be overturned.
Dual Olympian 110-metre hurdler Kyle Vander Kuyp, former world champion boxer Anthony Mundine, and former politician and activist Phil Cleary - who said recognising both flags at the Games would "affirm our real history and be a major act of reconciliation" - led the voices supporting boxer Damien Hooper who breached International Olympic Committee rules by wearing a T-shirt with the Aboriginal flag on it to competition in London.
While the 20-year-old gold medal contender said after competing on Monday that he was proud to respect his culture at the world's biggest sporting event, team boss Nick Green said yesterday morning that Hooper had since told him he was "very remorseful" and "extremely apologetic" about it. Green said Hooper, whose body is covered in tattoos recognising the Kamilaroi and Manandangi heritage of his indigenous mother, Fraulien, and maternal grandmother Lillian, had told him he had worn the T-shirt to provide "extra motivation because he was fighting a very strong opponent".
"We recognise his indigenous culture, and he is very proud of his indigenous culture, but in this instance the IOC has rule 50, which he is now well aware of ... and he's learnt a lesson and he won't do that again," Green said.
The AOC would not take further action against the 20-year-old light-heavyweight, who is a gold medal chance for Australia.
Vander Kuyp said yesterday he completely understood Hooper's desire to represent his indigenous heritage, and recalled how he knowingly flouted rules at the 1994 Commonwealth Games by stitching an Aboriginal flag into his uniform before racing in heats.
Vander Kuyp was warned by Australian team officials not to do it again. Cathy Freeman sparked controversy at the same meet by carrying the Aboriginal flag, and the Australian flag, after winning the 200m sprint. She did the same thing after winning gold at the Sydney Olympics, though her celebrations - according to IOC rules - breached the Olympic charter.
"I would love to see the whole country embrace the flag more," Vander Kuyp said.
"It's not just something for indigenous athletes and indigenous people to embrace. All Australians can embrace it. We're not there yet, but we're on the way. And I reckon we're on the way to our sporting teams saying 'You know what? We're proud of it'."
Cleary said the AOC should lobby for the Aboriginal flag to be recognised at the Olympics "out of respect and because it is not a symbol of conquest".
These pics were not politically motivated they just show national pride in who they are and where they come from - so what's wrong in that? (Facebook - Bow Knows)