This story has often been compared to two people showing up to the same event unintentionally wearing identical outfits.
A few days prior to the 1936 Summer Olympics‘ opening ceremony in Berlin, Liechtenstein’s Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein was walking through the Olympic Village and noticed that there were two flags there that looked like Liechtenstein’s. It turned out that one was in fact the principality’s, but the other one was Haiti’s. Both of them consisted of a blue top and a red bottom with no adornments on either.
Haiti had been using that flag design since 1849. To clarify, this country did use a coat of arms on its national and military flags, but its civil flag, which is what was used to represent the country in Berlin, did not have that.
In 1921, Liechtenstein had changed its flag from being red on the left and blue on the right to the horizontal design that was brought to the Games in 1936. However, it seemed that nobody had noticed that the Haiti and Liechtenstein flags were identical during the 15-year span from then until the 1936 Olympics. At least nobody noticed it in a manner that resulted in this fact being communicated to either of the governments.
However, that changed once Falz-Fein realized that this was the case as he immediately called government officials in Liechtenstein, pleading with them to change the flag before the opening ceremony. He was informed that this would not be happening.
But an alteration was made within a year. On June 24, 1937, Liechtenstein changed its flag so that it would no longer share the exact same design with another country’s. A prince’s crown was added to the top left corner, the implementation of a suggestion that Falz-Fein had made.
Interestingly, Haiti did not compete at the 1936 Olympics despite taking part in the opening ceremony as the country’s lone representative withdrew before participating. Conversely, 1936 was Liechtenstein’s first participation in the Games; seven athletes from that country took part in athletics, cycling and shooting.