GB Olympics icon calls out MPs as decision to change Union Jack sparks row | Other | Sport

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Olympic icon Matthew Pinsent has slammed the decision of Team GB to accept a redesign of the Union Jack flag ahead of this summer’s Paris Olympics. The refreshed design of the flag that uses a new pink and purple colour scheme is now on sale in official stores and has been described as “flexible and ownable” by creators.

But Pinsent, one of Britain’s all-time great Olympians, is seemingly having none of it. The 53-year-old won gold medals in four successive Games, triumphing in the coxless pairs with Steve Redgrave in 1992 and 1996 before also winning in 2000 and 2004 in the coxless four category.

He’s since worked for the BBC as a pundit at sporting events, but has now turned on both Team GB and the British Olympic Association for allowing alterations to the flag. “The BOA and Team GB has been fantastically free of government input for generations,” he posted on social media.

“Much to their credit. You have as much input into their kit, uniform, insignia, flag and blazer as who sits in the two seat of the women’s four in the rowing team. It’s like that deliberately.”

Pinsent hopes that the new flags will not appear on the actual kits of athletes. The outfits to be worn by the rowers, and individuals in other sports, are yet to be unveiled. Though a spokesperson said: “Rest assured the Union flag will feature proudly on the team kit for Paris, as it always does. This image doesn’t replace the Union flag, which we will wear with pride later this summer.”

“The flag thing is merchandise its never been the race kit,” Pinsent added. “That hasn’t been revealed yet.” He later appeared to see a funnier side to the dispute, writing: “Union Jack underpants on sale doesn’t bother me in the slightest.”

The Team GB ‘supporters flags’ are currently selling online for £12 on the Team GB shop, and following criticism bosses have sought to explain their decision, arguing the initial flag was too similar to that of other nations. “As with many sport brands, colour was a point of contention,” they stated.

“Obviously red, white and blue is synonymous with Great Britain, but it’s far from unique, with nations such as France and USA also sporting the same colours. We needed to find a way of refreshing Team GB’s colour palette in a way that is both flexible and ownable.”

The saga comes in the wake of sportswear giants Nike also being panned for their decision to alter the deigns of the St George’s Cross on the England national flag. They inserted purple and blue horizontal stripes in what was called a “playful update” to the shirt ahead of Euro 2024.

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