Former President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, has called for athletes from the EU member states to fly the EU flag as well as their own national flag “as a symbol of our unity.”
The next summer Olympic games will be in 2008 and held in Beijing, China. The press conference in Brussels, given by a spokesman for Mr. Prodi, included statistics of how well the EU did at the recent games in Athens, even claiming that the EU had “swept the floor.” EU officials calculated that the 25 EU states took 286 medals, including 82 golds. “For the sake of comparison,” said the spokesman, “the United States of America won 35 gold medals and 103 medals in total, with China and Russian behind them (the United States).”
Unfortunately for the EU statisticians, if you compare the number of medals won against the number of athletes participating, the Europeans have less to celebrate. The U.S. won their 103 medals with 1,418 athletes, while the EU sent 6,298.
More importantly regarding the flying of the EU flag in 2008, consider the following: how critical it will be to present a larger and significant united front at that time, especially when participating in China, the world’s most populous country; but also for those that remain in the EU to distinguish themselves from those that may disengage between now and then.