The EBU has released the official guidelines for the use of flags in the Eurovision audience. But as well as the usual size restrictions, there is now a list of specifically prohibited flags – and that’s left some groups unhappy.
The usual size restrictions apply. Flags without a stick must be no bigger than 120 x 80 cm, and flags with a stick must be no bigger than 60 x 40 cm, with the stick no bigger than 50 cm and made of plastic. This is to ensure that flags don’t end up blocking camera shots or getting in the way of other audience members.
And as usual, there are limits to the types of flags that can be used. The EBU has limited it to flags of the 42 participating countries, as well as recent participants (yes, Romania, you shall go to the ball!). Also allowed are the national flags of other countries, as long as that country is a member of the United Nations.
The rainbow flag (also known as the LGBT pride flag) and the European Union flag are also allowed (or “tolerated”, as the policy states), but only if they are not “used as [a] tool to intentionally make a political statement during the show”. So don’t go waving that EU flag during Joe and Jake’s song.
But banned are local, regional or provincial flags, ones with commercial messages, political or religious statements, flags of disputed territories, offensive statements, non-English statements, and other high objects (such as selfie sticks) that may obstruct views.
The banning of flags of local, regional, provincial or disputed territories is causing a bit of controversy for some affected areas.
The policy lists a few examples of banned flags, including the Kosovo, Crimea, Palestine and Basque flags. And it’s the inclusion of the Basque flag (also known as Ikurriña) that’s caused offence, with of the main Basque political parties, EH Bildu, making a complaint to the Swedish embassy.
— EH Bildu Congreso – Senado (@ehbilducongreso) April 28, 2016
Much of the complaint stems from an earlier version of the policy which included the Islamic State flag alongside the examples of area flags, seemingly equating the Basque flag with that of a terrorist group.
The document has since been updated and now lists the Islamic State flag in a separate “strictly prohibited” area.
Flying the flag
The new flag policy will certainly affect a large number of fans. In recent years, we’ve seen Kosovan flags, Catalonian Esteladas and even the Spanish representatives in 2013, ESDM, had an Asturian flag with them. What are your thoughts on this?
Over the years, flags have become a sensitive topic at Eurovision, and not only because of the many camera angles they ruin. Do you think the banned flags necessarily contain a political statement? Are you in favour of the restrictions? Share your feelings below!