Flags of Identity – Flags of State

Written by Jade in 26 May 15

Ref:        229/M/533

Re:         Flags of Identity – Flags of State

Dear Secretary Kerry

Following the 2015 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup in Los Angeles I have become aware that Iranian spectators were prohibited from carrying their flags and am writing to express concern about the repeat of such decision for any future sports events.

The flag of Iranian national unity and identity has carried the emblem of the lion and the rising sun for over one thousand years. Although we are fully aware of the international recognition of the present ‘official flag’, we would like to remind you of Iran’s unique position:  not only many of the near five million Iranians dispersed globally (of which a high proportion have settled in the United States) but many Iranians inside Iran recognise the lion and sun as a symbol of national identity. With this in mind, we find it incomprehensible that ‘the land of free’ will prohibit its citizens from carrying a symbol of their national identity into a sports stadium while at the same time we witness the valuable efforts the organisers to ensure the attendance of the very same Iranians at such events.

Such decisions and actions raise the following key questions:

  • Are the organisers aware of the social repercussions and international media coverage that the violations of the first amendment of the United States Bill of rights will have?
  • Is it not that such action will only be interpreted as appeasing the Islamic Republic which can only lead to negative sentiments amongst Iranians against the United States?
  • Is it not that the prohibition of carrying a symbol of national identity for many Iranians is against the spirit of article 6 of the Olympic Charter?
  • Are the organisers aware that the attendance and celebrations of Iranians – of whatever persuasion they may be – at such events has nothing to do with support for the Islamic Republic but everything to do with national pride and credibility?


In conclusion and to reiterate the issue here is not one of an ‘official flag’ but of a flag that has great socio-cultural relevance and value amongst many Iranians.


Sir, ACI awaits your response with the hope that any such prohibition will be lifted and Iranians may carry their flag of choice into the sports stadium.


Dr Hossein Ladjevardi

President – ACI