IT WAS raised to mark the hand over of the games from China to the UK, but now thieves have made off with a special Olympics flag.
The standard, bearing the Olympic rings logo, was taken from the County Buildings in Lerwick, next to the town’s police station, less than 24 hours after it was raised.
A special ceremony was held at the weekend to commemorate the beginning of preparations for the London Olympic Games in 2012.
As television viewers tuned in to the spectacular closing ceremony for the Beijing games, a slightly lower key event involving the chairman of Shetland Island Games Association, Andrew Inkster, saw the Lerwick flag hoisted on Sunday afternoon.
The ceremony was organised by Shetland army cadets, while members of ‘G’ Troop 212 Battery RA of the Territorial Army looked on.
At the same time, a second flag was put up at the Baltasound Boating Club in Unst, making it the most northerly standard to feature the Olympic symbol.
Veteran sailor Duncan Sandison and young athletes Faye and Jenni Richardson performed the ceremony. Faye and Jenni have represented Scotland at various age groups in athletics and Faye has received a sponsorship from Lloyds TSB to enable her to train for the 2012 Olympics in London.
By Monday morning, the flag in Lerwick had disappeared.
Made of white nylon mesh, the flag also had the date 24th August 2008 printed along its bottom edge.
Shetland’s TA commandant John Taylor said the flag was fastened securely enough not to have been blown away by the wind.
He appealed to whoever had taken it to return the flag anonymously to Fort Charlotte.
He said: “This thing was flying and the next morning it had gone. Clearly it had been pulled down.
“Along the bottom of the flag it had ‘24th August 2008’ on it, so if it’s flown during the Olympics in four years’ time it would be obvious where it came from.
“You can’t really put it on public display – it’s probably on Ebay as we speak.
“If the perpetrator wants to post it through the letterbox at Fort Charlotte then that would be fine.
“It’s really just a disappointment. The fact that somebody was so brazen as to have taken the flag from the County Buildings is a shame.”
Police inspector Ross MacKillop said: “It seems to have been taken as a prank, and we would urge whoever has the flag to return it.”
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the flag is asked to contact the Lerwick Police Station.