IAAF President Sebastian Coe looks on as the Gibraltar flag is raised during a ceremony at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia ©Twitter

Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has welcomed the actions of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in allowing the country’s flag to be raised at yesterday World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, defying a ruling from the Spanish Government.

Before the race, the Gibraltar Amateur Athletic Association (GAAA) had tweeted that the national flag had not been raised at the Championships due to instructions from Madrid.

This led to criticism being expressed in political and athletics circles and the GAAA lodged an official complaint to the IAAF which was accepted by the world governing body.

The flag was then raised by the seven Gibraltar athletes as they marched in the post-race IAAF ceremony on Saturday evening attended by IAAF President Sebastian Coe.

Picardo tweeted in response:  "Delighted to see this result delivered for @GAAA5 and for our athletes, who did not deserve that their flag should not fly in a competition in which they are properly enrolled @iaaforg #FairnessPrevails".

A spokesman for the GAAA added on Twitter "After a complaint made by Gibraltar Athletics to the IAAF. The Gibraltar Flag flies at the Valencia Half Marathon parade. Thanks to Seb Coe & all at IAAF."

An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 and nine years later the territory was ceded to Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht.

Spain has never given up its sovereignty over Gibraltar, however, even though its 30,000 citizens overwhelming rejected Spanish rule in 1967 and 2002 referendums.

Earlier in the day Picardo had tweeted: "Mixing sport & politics like this is how the Spanish Government ensures #Gibraltar never forgets how badly we have been treated historically by them & how future generations of #Gibraltarians will ensure we remain 100% #British. We will have no such issue in Australia @GC2018."

The incident comes 19 years after Liam Byrne and the then GAAA chairman, Freddie Chappory, were directed not to fly the Gibraltar flag at the IAAF World Championships in Seville.

At the time local athletes gathered support from local sports associations and other international bodies in protest at Spain’s actions.

Coe, as a representative of British Athletics, was among the supporters.

Earlier this year Coe visited Gibraltar to launch its School of Sport.