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Triathlon Union Reverses Course On Rainbow Flag Ban After Uproar

Last week, Outsports reported the International Triathlon Union, the governing body for triathlon events around the world, had effectively banned rainbow flags from being flown at ITU events.

The LGBT sporting site noted that the phrase “sexual orientation” had been quietly added to a rule about displaying ‘propaganda’ two months ago.

Part X regarding the general conduct of athletes read, “Athletes will avoid displaying any kind of demonstration of political, religious, sexual orientation or racial propaganda.”

The penalty for flying or displaying a rainbow pride flag could be disqualification and removal from competition.

At the time, a spokesperson for ITU told Outsports the language was “similar wording that is included in many other sporting organizations.”

The ITU has now reversed course and rescinded the ban on rainbow flags or symbols.

“The ITU has always stood for equality, inclusion and respect, and would never knowingly take such a decision that would infringe on the rights and freedoms of people to express themselves and banning the display of rainbow flags,” writes the ITU in a new statement.

The organization goes on to say they will “revisit the rule” to make sure the right of self-expression is continued and embraced.

The statement closes with this:

ITU regrets that this interpretation of the updated rules could have affected any person. It was never ITU’s intention that anyone could be hurt by this decision, one that was never intended to be taken against any group of individuals, no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation.

ITU is proud to be an organisation that is absolutely inclusive from its inception, and will continue to be so in the future.

It’s somewhat disingenuous to say there was a ‘misunderstanding’ when the ITU spokesperson clearly articulated the new rule to Outsports just last week.

Great Britain's Jack Bristow told BBC Sport, "Banning the flag 'for our own good' is not a good look."

"It wasn't really an issue beforehand, so I don't know why they introduced this rule and it seems to have backfired on them," he added. "But it's great they have responded so quickly and been prepared to listen to feedback."

(h/t Outsports, BBC Sport)