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Australian Olympic flags

Last modified: 2018-04-12 by ian macdonald
Keywords: australasia | olympic | victoria | southern cross | crown |
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Australian Olympic Federation's / Committee's logo

The link at announces the use of an extremely simplified Australian Arms (Supporters and Crest) above the Olympic rings. There is also the other AOC "brand" flag, with a black & white out-lined version of the full Australian Arms above the coloured Olympic Rings.
Ralph Bartlett, 25 March 2018

1989 flag

[Australian Olympic Federation's / Committee's logo] image located by Ralph Bartlett, 23 March 2018

The then Australian Olympic Federation's / Committee's logo, containing the Australian National Flag above the Olympic Rings - both in full colours, was adopted as both a logo and logo-flag on the 27 September 1989. This was granted to the Australian Olympic Federation Incorporated, and published in the Commonwealth of Australia Government Gazette No. GN 11, on 21 March 1990, p.841.

This partially obscured photo of the flag was taken at one of the Australian team's training facilities prior to the London Olympics, in July 2012. The flag itself is of 1:2 proportions, with the logo design in the centre of the white field. I have one of these flags in my personal flag collection.
Ralph Bartlett, 23 March 2018

1983 flag

[Australian Olympic Federation's / Committee's logo] image located by Ralph Bartlett, 23 March 2018

Prior to this the AOF used between March 1983 and September 1989, a logo consisting of a track-suited dressed "Willy the Koala" also beneath the Australian National Flag. This logo also appeared in the centre of white field flag of 1:2 proportions. I also have in my collection. I am yet to establish the exact
date of the AOC's new (current) logo.
Ralph Bartlett, 23 March 2018

"I am yet to establish the exact date of the AOC's new (current) logo" - says August 5th, 2015.
Zachary Harden, 24 March 2018

Early Australasian Olympic flags

[Australasian Olympic Flag] image by image by Clay Moss, 19 December 2005
[Australasian Olympic Flag] image by António Martins, 28 November 2005

At, it says, "During two Olympics, in 1908 and 1912, Australia competed with New Zealand under the banner of Australasia."
, 22 September 2000

The correct flag of the combined team is shown in two photographs of the team at the opening ceremony of the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games. The source for these photos is the book “Australasia’ Olympic Century: All the games in pictures”, edited by Ross, Hutchinson & Associates and published by Ironbark (Pan Macmillan Australia) in 1998.

Both photos show that an Australian national flag was used. The 1908 photo indicates that the flag was a red version of the Australian flag, whilst it is less clear in the 1912 flag, but the Commonwealth Star is distinct.

At the 1896 Olympic Games, Australia was represented by only one person - Edward Flack, who won two first-place medals (then silver) for the 800 metre and 1500 metre running. Flack grew up in Victoria, but at the time Flack was living in London. Australia had not been established as a federated country in 1896. The flag used to represent Flack’s two wins is reported ( to have been the Union Jack, with the Austrian flag initially being raised. The Union Jack was appropriate as he had been nominated to compete by the London Athletic Club and he was recorded as a British gold medalist until 1936.

In 1908 12 Australians and 2 New Zealanders marched as a team called “Australasia”. The flag-bearer was Henry St Aubyn Murray, from New Zealand. This was the first Olympic Games where athletes marched as teams under a national flag. A New Zealander, Malcolm Champion, also carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony.

Because the 7-pointed version of the red ensign did not become official until December 1908, it was not used until the 1912 Games and a 6-pointed version was used for the 1908 Games.
Ralph Kelly, 19 March 2018

In support of Ralph's wording here, I think it would be foolish to say anything that suggests that "the Australian Flag" referred unambiguously to the red or the blue at that point in time. In this context, red would be more appropriate in terms of what we know of official policy. It is also my (limited) experience that items associated with the Olympics often used red ensigns for all the British dominions, even when that was arguably less appropriate (for example, New Zealand).
Jonathan Dixon, 22 March 2018

From looking at this AOC provided photo:, it shows that the red ensign was used for Australia in the 1936 Berlin Games. After the Games resumed in 1948, the Australians used a blue ensign ( but continued with
blue in 1952 for Helsinki ( br>New Zealand looks like they used red at the 1920 Antwerp Games ( but I cannot confirm that. Also for 1936 the Kiwis used a red ensign, ( if this postcard is to be believed). I believe either 1952 in Helsinki or 1956 in Melbourne is when the Kiwis switched from red to blue, but the only evidence I have is from 1956 ( 
Zachary Harden, 22 March 2018

The Australian Olympic Committee website that cited above ( at the bottom shows a video of the 1948 Opening Ceremony, and it clearly shows use of a blue Australian flag. Blue would be correct for the Australian flag protocol in 1948. To confuse things the page also has a photo of the wrestling team holding a red ensign.
I agree that the Australian red ensign was used up to and including Berlin 1936.
Ralph Kelly, 23 March 2018

Speculative flag at 1902, 1906 Olympics

[Australasian Olympic Flag] image by Juan Manuel Gabino, 22 September 2000

I drew this flag from a T.V. series called "The Olympic Games of the Modern Era: Athens 1896", broadcasted by "Once TV".

The flag corresponds to Australia and/or Australasia. It features the Union Jack and a blue shield -over a white circle- in the fly with the Southern Cross, crowned by the "Tudor" crown.

As far as I know the Tudor crown came into use from 1902 until 1953. Then, the flag may correspond exclusively for "Australasia" (1908-1912). But according to the TV series it was also used 1896-1900. [editor - this was before Australia had its own flag]
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 22 September 2000

The flag generally corresponds to the purported colonial badge for the governor of the colony of Victoria in 1877. This badge (with its shield) was proposed by the British Admiralty and reproduced in some early flag publications and cigarette cards, but was never actually used in Victoria. The Southern Cross surmounted with a Crown applied directly to the field of the blue ensign was the correct method of applying the Victorian colonial badge to the ensign (i.e. as it is today). The original shape of the crown was an "Imperial Crown" and this was changed to a "Tudor Crown" (as drawn in the attachment) in 1901.

I am interested in the source of this claim that this Victorian flag was used by the combined Australia/New Zealand team. It is certainly possible, given the casual attitude to flags in the early years, though this report is the first occasion that I have seen any attempt to describe the flag used for the Olympic athletes. To the extent that I had thought about the matter, I had assumed that the team used the British Union Jack. Is it clear that the documentary is citing a contemporary source, or could it be that the producer has simply used an "old" flag design?
Ralph Kelly, 23 September 2000

[This flag] was raised for swimming events (I can remember seeing a photo of one of the medal ceremonies - unfortunately I have no idea where the photo was, but I can distinctly remember that it was the first time I'd ever seen the Australasian flag). Can't understand why it wouldn't have been for the other events at the games, either. Then again, the photo was of the relay team, which had a New Zealander as part of it, so that might be a partial explanation.
James Dignan, 1 March 2005

I have not been able to locate any information on a TV series called “The Olympic Games of the Modern Era: Athens 1896”, but there is a two-episode docu-drama called “The First Olympics: Athens 1896" that was made by Columbia Pictures Television in 1984 which recreated the story of the creation of the American team for the 1896 games. So, the primary source of this design is a flag in a movie - how reliable is that?

The correct flags for these games are the red ensign flags, as recounted above.
Ralph Kelly
, 19 March 2018

The salute to the king in 1908 appears to show the Australian flag, with stars on the dark background. The Library of Congress provides us with an image of the salute, showing the flag with stars, including the Commonwealth Star ( [This is, of course, the point in the London 1908 opening ceremony where the American flag was in fact dipped.] I can't make out the exact number of points on the Commonwealth Star, but unless new flags were made in anticipation of the formal change, this flag should have been in the old style.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee shows us a higher resolution image of the flag, clearly without a shield but unfortunately somewhat furled: (at

Te Ara covers the Australasian team at London 1908 with "An Australasian team represented New Zealand and Australia jointly at the 1908 London Olympic Games. The New Zealanders in the team wore a special crest with a kiwi and silver ferns placed below the Australian coat of arm, and emu and a kangaroo. These Olympics were the first to have a formal opening ceremony. The team marched behind the Australian flag, but New Zealand hurdler Henry Murray ... was the flag bearer. ...

There's no mention of the colour of the flag. They're wrong about London 1908 to have the first formal opening ceremony, I would say. But not many people realise Athens 1906 contributed a lot of details of the games as they are now, the opening ceremony among them. I would be surprised to learn about colour photographs for London, 1908, but maybe different shades of dark can be seen close together in the photograph.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 March 2018