The Canberra Balloon Spectacular's volunteer flight team has said it is embarrassed by the ACT government's decision to ban a balloon authorities described as racist.
At a pilot briefing on Saturday morning, when hot air balloons taking part in the event were grounded for the day because of rain and wind, a joint statement from the volunteers was read out.
Flight director John Wallington would not confirm the contents of the statement when contacted by the Sunday Canberra Times, but a photo of the statement posted on social media called the decision farcical.
Events ACT, the territory government's events arm, decided last month to ban the Black Magic balloon, also known as "Golly", calling it racist and offensive.
When the balloon was banned, disappointed owner Kay Turnbull said her friends and family only ever referred to it by its registered name, Black Magic.
"We believe the decision to be not only farcical and completely avoidable but at a more important level worryingly discriminatory," the volunteer flight team's statement said.
"We are embarrassed by the banning of Black Magic.
"We are also distressed about the publicising by the ACT government, presumably to assist in justifying its position, of an alternate name for Black Magic that previously was not even know [sic] to most balloonists."
Mr Wallington told the Sunday Canberra Times he was only interested in discussing the positive impact the Canberra Balloon Spectacular had on the community.
He said the volunteers respected Events ACT's decision and any comments made at the pilot briefing were intended only for the balloon pilots.
"All I'm interested in doing is making this event work," Mr Wallington said on Saturday.
"The mood today amongst the balloonists was very positive."
He said despite the weather preventing balloons from taking off on the Balloon Spectactular's opening day, he was optimistic about their chances of taking to the sky for the remaining eight days.
Thousands of people gathered on the lawns of Old Parliament House on Saturday morning for the start of the 2019 Canberra Balloon Spectacular, and many stuck around long after it was announced that the weather would prevent the balloons taking off on day one.
A number of hot air balloons were inflated and tethered to the ground, allowing attendees to get up close and take pictures.
The Royal Australian Air Force inflated two of its balloons, including one designed to resemble a pilot's helmet.
Wing Commander Damian Gilchrist said that balloon was comprised of more than 1500 panels, while most would only have about 300.
"It has a bunch of facets that give it that shape to include the oxygen mask, the hose and the visor," he said.
"Some say it looks a little bit menacing, but we like it and nearly everyone we’ve talked to has said they love it."
Charnwood resident Helene Rushby and her four children were among the crowds that woke up early to see the balloons.
She said it had been a tradition every year since her eight-year-old son was born.
"We love it. Canberra does such great, free events for families," she said.
"We'll try again on Monday to see them all [in the air]."