Changing China

Giant on the move

You can carry the flag, Dirk — just don’t wave it around

August 6, 2008

Nowitzki trainsDirk Nowitzki was picked to carry the German flag into the Olympic Stadium’s Opening Ceremonies on Friday but, in a country where carrying the national flag had long fallen out of favour, the NBA all-star basketball player was given a few unsolicited pointers by German Olympic officials on how to do the job.

“They gave me the tip that it’s not going to be like at Carnival and so I shouldn’t wave the flag around too wildly,” said Nowitzki, who added he was deeply honoured to be the country’s flag-bearer. “But I think I’ll still be able to have some fun with the whole thing.”

Nowitzki, 30, epitomises a younger generation of Germans born decades after World War Two who have embraced patriotism. Unlike their parents’ generation¬†they have no inhibitions about showing their love of the country and even waving a German flag — something that was a very rare sight between the Black Forest and Baltic until only a few years ago.
The first surge in German flag-waving came in 2006 at the soccer World Cup when there was suddenly millions of German flags flying.

Nowitzki, like millions of others, even painted little German flags on his cheeks and put one on his car during the Euro 2008 soccer championship. But his little car flag didn’t survive long on the high-speed motorways. “Unfortunately I drive a little fast on the Autobahn,” he said. “It didn’t survive more than a day and I had to take what was left of it off.”

PHOTO: Dirk Nowitzki looks up during a practice session ahead of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 4, 2008. REUTERS/Sergio Perez


Of course the same instructions apply to the person who will be carrying the Japanese flag.

Any Tibetian flags?

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