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South African Olympic Flags

Last modified: 2006-01-21 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | olympics |
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[The Olympic Flag of 1992] image by Pascal Gross, 28 Jun 1999 See also:

The Olympic Flag of 1992

The South African Olympic Flag appears in Flagmaster No.84 as part of a large article by William Crampton on flags at the Olympics. The flag is illustrated at page 36 of Flag Bulletin Vol. XXXI:1/145 dated Jan-Apr 1992 and in the SAVA Newsletter 3/92 dated July 1992. The SAVA article notes that there were two versions of what it described as the "Interim Olympic Flag for South Africa" - an initial design which included the words SOUTH AFRICA and a modified version which deleted the words. It also appeared as a colour illustration in 1992 in a TIME magazine (sorry I don't have a date).
Ralph Kelly, 10 November 1998

On 6 November 1991 the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) announced a flag under which South African athletes would compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.  In accepting the invitation to participate in the Games, NOCSA indicated that it "would not be appropriate" to use the (then) existing national flag, springbok sports emblem or the national anthem.  Instead, South Africa would compete using interim symbols.

The interim Olympic emblem comprised a white flag, in the centre of which is a stylised grey diamond representing the country's mineral wealth. Superimposed, in the top left hand corner are the 5 Olympic rings in colour. Starting beneath the rings and sweeping up to the right of the flag are flashes of blue (representing rain and sea), red (for land) and green (for agriculture).  Under this design are the words SOUTH AFRICA in grey.  NOCSA Chairman, Mr Sam Ramsamy, said the flag represented unity and would be used until a democratically elected government was in place.

The government criticised both the decision to use such a symbol as well as its design. However, for most of South Africa's athletes, the chance to compete in the Olympic games after a break of 31 years was the most important concern.  South Africa was represented by this flag at the Barcelona Olympic Games.

With the election of a democratic government in 1994 and adoption of a new flag, this so called "interim Olympic Flag" is no longer used.
From: SAVA Newsletters SN: 2/91 and 3/92.
Bruce Berry, 28 Jun 1999

There's a quote from Željko Heimer from four years ago on the page about the South African 1992 Olympic flag. It describes that flag as: "The flag of South Africa used on Barcelona 1992 games was, I guess, their national Olympic Committee flag - white with Olympic circles and wing-like shapes one behind the other in Olympic (or if you wish in the new South African) colours."
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 19 July 2000

I found the Symbol of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa, which does resemble the description above. However, I expect the wing-shapes are branches of some kind. Is there someone who knows or can make a good guess about the kind of branches who can make a better description? I understand that the NOCSA's flag includes the letters, while the flag for the 1992 South African team displayed only the logo.

The flag used by South Africa at the 1992 Olympic Games was not the flag of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA). It was an "interim" flag to be used by the team in place of the national flag, since the latter was not considered to be representative of the nation as a whole.  The colours represent rain and sea (blue), land (red) and agriculture (green). These were originally described as "flashes" of colour. The original design for the flag included the name "South Africa" in grey under the logo but this was later removed and the flag carried at the Olympics was white with the logo in the centre sent to FOTW previously. The NOCSA symbol has been used since 1994 to represent the Committee. It does appear on a white field as the NOCSA "house flag" but it does not have any "official" status and it is not carried at the Olympic Games.  As for the branches, I agree with the earlier posting that they are stylised olive branches.
Bruce Berry, 21 Jul 2000

  image by Dean Thomas, 27 Aug 2004

The NOCSA "House flag" was  carried by the South African Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, as the now-current national flag of South Africa had not yet come into use until later that year.
Dean Thomas, 27 Aug 2004

Symbol of the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA)

[Symbol of the South African NOC] image from this site, reported by Bruce Berry, 21 Jul 2000