Going for Gold…

You want to talk about it and it could make for tomorrow’s programme:

More and more athletes are switching nationalities in order to compete at the Olympics. There are Brazilians representing Georgia, a Syrian representing Germany, a Kenyan representing the United States and an American, (Becky Hammon) representing Russia.

It’s not the first time this is happening BUT it’s becoming more noticeable in Beijing than in previous Games, so much so it’s beginning to cause concern among international sports bodies.

Is it wrong to change your nationality in order to try and win an Olympic medal? What’s more important – National allegiance or an Olympic medal?

19 Responses to “Going for Gold…”

  1. 1 Roberto
    August 18, 2008 at 16:55

    More and more athletes are switching nationalities in order to compete at the Olympics.

    ——– Olympics more and more becoming a dog and pony show with a big fireworks finale.

    Nationality is a joke and who wants to see American and Euro professionals whoop up on poor downtrodden 3rd world athletes?

    I guess some do, and add in all the PEDs much less the ridiculously long list of banned substances and the need for testing, they’ve lost the plot a long time ago.

    The games started off with merit as these athletes were true amateurs and true citizens of their countries and there was something exotic about seeing different races and nationalities competing with different athletic gifts. Those days long gone.

  2. 2 Mohammed Ali
    August 18, 2008 at 17:08

    Simple question. National allegiance. But remember this is sport and in the sporting arena, the athletes are looking for laurels and not allegiance.

  3. August 18, 2008 at 18:13

    Hi WHYSers!

    I am not even sure I understand, in part, the post above, insofar as it speaks to “exoticism”, etc. What I do know, however, is that the chance to compete at the highest levels in sports must be a relished opportunity for any athlete.

    As I recall, an American athlete with Jamaican parents – Inger Miller, a few years back was prepared to run in both the US and Jamaican national trials in an effort to get on either teams as she had the option of doing so. While, there was concern about this at the time in Jamaica as I am sure in the parts of the US that actually care about Track and Fields Athletics, there is essentially no harm, in my view, with exploring one’s options.

    The larger question though of national loyalties and the pride and sense of community that go with that are separate issues. We in Jamaica, like other parts of the Caribbean, have long battled with the idea of our nationals wearing other uniforms. However, I presume professionals must make a choice about their own careers and what they see as the opportunity to earn real rewards from switching to another team…More power to those who so choose, notwithstanding my own anxieties on the matter!

  4. August 18, 2008 at 18:18

    Becky Hammon and other athletes have the right to switch citizenships in order to compete.

  5. 5 natalie sara
    August 18, 2008 at 18:18

    have you read any articles of my country’s ping pong team getting singapore a medal finally since 1960 because this is the only bloody second time we got one? the team people are all from china, including the coach and apparently, half our national team is made up of foreigners-becoming-recent-citizens. its not easy finding great talent in a population of merely 4 million but even importing citizens doesnt seem a right thing to do! : ( they may have got citizenship so that they may not be just one insignificant player out of hundreds in the chinese team and have less competition in singapore to have it easy to get the ticket to the olympics. i think its wrong to change nationality for this. patriotism must be set free!

  6. 6 Shirley
    August 18, 2008 at 18:20

    I know that the Olympics is about a spirit of international co-operation and sportsmanship, but I think that it might be taking it a bit too far to have athletes from one country competing for another country. I can understand the case of Oxana Chusovitina who went from Uzbekistan to Germany and competed for the German team. Even though she is still very much Uzbek, she has been living in Germany so that her son can receive cancer treatments. But other countries that have been co-opting talent from the developing world just don’t seem quite as honest.

    Number of words: 97

  7. 7 Justin from Iowa
    August 18, 2008 at 18:37

    People should not be able to switch their allegiance to a country. They should have to declare their country allegiance a year or more in advance, and it should be a life long decision barring special circumstances. The whole idea of switching nationality for a better shot at the Olympics is against everything they really stand for.

  8. 8 Jennifer
    August 18, 2008 at 19:10

    I think it’s ok to change your nationality to try and win an Olympic medal. In some ways, it seems like the athletes are not showing pride for their home countries but if they have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics they should go for it because their supporters will know where they are from and it could open alot of opportunity for them.

  9. August 18, 2008 at 22:44

    @ Shirley,

    You make a very profound point, in terms of the wooing away of good, even great athletes from poorer countries by those with significantly more resources to do. Cuba, for instance, suffers from this problem with its baseballers and track stars, many of who currently perform for European countries. There is a lesson in this for the home nations to ensure that the needs of their star athletes as well as all athletes are sufficiently addressed as to engender national pride and loyalty over and above economic interests. I was taught as a child: “no place like home!” However, Reggae icon Bob Marley also said that his home is in his head (heart!). Wherever he is that is where his home is….It is a challenge, I am sure!

  10. 10 Tom
    August 19, 2008 at 01:29

    Given that the Olympics is a competition between political entities, isn’t it that the issues of nationalism, shifting allegiance, and politicisation of sports will always be an inevitable reality?

    For this to become a non-issue, the Olympics will need to revert back to an amateur competition with athletes representing themselves and not a political entity. Athletes who shifted allegiance did so so that they could participate in their desired discipline without the political constraints imposed on them by their former country.

    I don’t see anything wrong with this and is better than someone saying “I feel so proud to have won gold for my country”. If the issue is to do with a local athlete losing his/her place in the team to a newly arrived migrant, it’s a perfect opportunity for that athlete to improve and learn from the better athlete. He/she may also learn a thing or two about the other’s culture and sport ethics.

  11. August 19, 2008 at 11:50

    no question about it, if its the only way for them to expose their talents then its more than ok to change nationality. i support them 100%

  12. August 19, 2008 at 12:00

    @ Justin
    please these people are not against what they stand for coz after all in normal life personal life comes before the country so its clear they shld go for Gold if thats the only way to shine

  13. 13 Meg from Canada
    August 19, 2008 at 13:39

    Just so I understand the issue clearly… if I, a Canadian wanted to compete for the USA in the Olympics, I could do this without being an american citizen?

    If a person changes citizenship to another country and wants to represent that country, I see no reason why they shouldn’t do so.

  14. 14 Meg in Canada
    August 19, 2008 at 13:55

    Another added thought to the one I posted above…

    I don’t understand how it could be legal to compete for a country of which you are not a citizen… I suppose if someone had dual citizenship they would have a choice between the two?

  15. 15 Tom
    August 19, 2008 at 14:59

    @ Meg,

    The Canadian needs to become a US citizen first in order to pull on the US guernsey. Otherwise, he/she could live and train in the US but represents Canada in competition.

  16. 16 Meg in Canada
    August 19, 2008 at 16:25

    @ Tom,

    Thanks for responding. If that is the case I stand by my previous statement: if you are a citizen of the country then you should be allowed to compete for that country. It shouldn’t matter if the current country of your citizenship is different from the one in which you were born.

  17. 17 Scott Graham
    August 20, 2008 at 11:40

    On the subject of overwhelming Olympic success for team GB, nobody seems to have mentioned that 12 years ago team GB did not do very well and as a direct result the government of the day suggested investment in schools, changing school infrastructure from being named comprehensives to being named colleges of technology, or colleges of sport. Millions of pounds was invested in schools to build new sports facilities and the local communities were encouraged to participate by using the sports facilities in the evenings and for a variety of sporting uses. Is it possible that this initiative has actually paid off? And why hasn’t the governing party of the day used the current success of team GB in party propping?

  18. 18 Andre
    August 22, 2008 at 02:33

    Jamaicans or from Jamaican Parents: All medal winners

    Tessa Sanderson, GB
    Atlee Mahorn Canada
    Atto “persona Non Grata “ Boltan, US
    Ben Johnson, Canada
    Charmaine Crooks, Canada
    Colin Jackson, GB
    Sydonie Mothersill, Cayman
    Danavan Bailey, Canada
    Dwain Chambers, GB
    Inger Miller (father: Lennox Miller), US
    Jerome Young, US
    Kareem Streete-Thompson, US and Cayman
    Kelli White, US
    Dame Kelly Holmes, GB
    Linford Christie, GB
    Mark Boswell, Canada
    Mark Lewis Francis, GB
    Milt Ottey, Canada
    Olusoji Fasuba (cousin to Don Quarrie), Nigeria
    Robert Esmie, Canada
    Sandra Farmer-Patrick (Ja then US)
    Sanya Richards, US
    Suziann Reid, US

  19. 19 Hammster
    February 22, 2010 at 21:21

    The Olympic Charter clearly states that the games are competition between individuals. Total national medal counts aren’t even official by Olympic standards, but are rather tracked by the media. So, by the letter of the Charter, “national allegiance” is actually irrelevant.

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