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Discussion: Competing on WOC

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 18, 2016 9:25 PM # 
I'm wondering what are the major obstacles that some athletes who are not selected to the national team don't decide to compete for other country like in other sports. One of our whitewater kayak athlete decided to compete for AZE because only one boat is allowed to qualify for Olympics.

Will we see Swiss athletes in Liechtenstein team in the future or similar.
Aug 18, 2016 9:59 PM # 
You need a passport.
Aug 18, 2016 10:54 PM # 
It happens in orienteering too. See the US JWOC team or the Canadian WOC team.
Aug 19, 2016 3:59 AM # 
Subject to obtaining citizenship (and of course a country can make up whatever rules it wants for granting citizenship) I understand it has become very easy, including at the Olympic level, since I relatively recent change in the rules, with some Middle Eastern countries such as Bahrain buying their Olympic teams by finding runners in countries like Kenya and Ethiopia and giving them citizenship and money. However, I also heard the IOC is concerned about the current rules being abused and is considering tightening things up.

When I was a triathlete in Hong Kong, anyone living in Hong Kong competing in events at the international level (but noting that triathlon was not in the Olympics at the time) represented Hong Kong, whether elite, junior or age group, regardless of passport. The junior team was split between expatriates and Hong Kong natives, but my recollection is that the Hong Kong team at the elite level was completely expatriate and it was among the best in Asia. The professional coaches were expatriate and they also competed. However, these were all people who came to Hong Kong because of jobs, not to get on a national team because they couldn't do so in the own country.
Aug 19, 2016 10:31 AM # 
In international orienteering the only requirement is citizenship (and not being able to represent two countries in the same year).

As noted above, countries can set their own rules for citizenship. In Australia's case, there is a provision for fast-track citizenship (normally four years' residence is required) for the purpose of representing Australia in international sporting competition, but we checked that out a couple of years back and found out that it's only available to Olympic sports and cricket - the latter being a specific amendment to the law to try to get someone into the team who the selectors didn't end up picking anyway.

Obviously Hong Kong is something of a special case.
Aug 19, 2016 11:19 AM # 
I'm not sure it's fair to say the US juniors team is an example of this Boris. They were all born here! Getting Citizenship as an adult for a particular sporting purpose is a different matter...
Aug 19, 2016 11:31 AM # 
Another category, which a few people I can think of have fitted into, are those who have run for countries whose citizenship they are entitled to through a relative but have never lived there. (The Irish football team used to be particularly noted for scouring the leagues of Europe for promising players with an Irish parent or grandparent).
Aug 19, 2016 12:00 PM # 
it's only available to Olympic sports and cricket

Does the fact that orienteering is Olympic-recognized count? That seems to get American orienteers into our Olympic training center, and a quarter century ago got us some Olympic grants for making maps in the mountains above the training center.
Aug 19, 2016 1:01 PM # 
blairtrewin, one example of the Australian fast-track is Daria Gavrilova, who competed for Australia in the Olympics after immigrating to Australia from Russia last year.

In terms of competing based on heritage such as the birthplace of a parent, the only time Canada didn't win the gold medal in the early days of Olympic ice hockey competition (i.e., before the USSR became good), Canada lost to a UK team that was composed of Canadians of British heritage.

I see that Canada is now going the heritage route as well. Excerpts from an article in the Canadian press a couple of days ago:
"COC reaping benefits of digging up athletes with a link to Canada"

"When Johnathan Cabral crossed the finish line with a rather stunning sixth placing in the 110-metre hurdles, the rather earnest press attache from the Canadian Olympic Committee asked: 'Does anyone want to talk to Johnathan?'

'I would,' came the response in the mixed zone, 'if I had any idea who Johnathan is.'

Medals and headlines aside, the surprising sixth-place finish that Cabral had would normally be considered close to a victory in a very challenging Olympic event, except for this: Barely a soul across Canada has any idea who Cabral happens to be.

How is this possible?

Well, for starters, he was born in Oregon. He grew up and starred in high school in football and track at Agoura Hills, Calif., where he was coached by his father, an American. His mom, Ghislane, who divorced her husband 15 years ago, was born in small town Quebec.

Thus, through research, ingenuity and a just a touch of desperation, a not-so-accidental Canadian Olympian was born."

"Anne Merklinger, the CEO of Own The Podium, admits without shame or trepidation that Canadian coaches and individual sports organizations in Canada now recruit by birthplace. They don’t only search for Canada’s best. They target America’s best who happen to have some kind of Canadian connection."

"Both John Atkinson of Swim Canada and Peter Eriksson of Athletics Canada actively work with the NCAA in the United States to find American athletes with Canadian connections."

"In the past we have mocked other countries for this very practice, but Merklinger points out that Canada has lost its own athletes to competing nations in recent Games under similar circumstances."
Aug 19, 2016 1:11 PM # 
Mikhail Mamleev.
Aug 19, 2016 2:00 PM # 
Only 2 of GBR's gold medal winning hockey team were not born in the UK.

There is a big difference between natural citizens on a country, like those in the USA JWOC team (that caused a rather ugly thread on here) and getting given a passport by a country with which you have no natural links specifically for the purpose of competing in international sport.

That is what Qatar and Bahrain have been doing.

I respect the athletes for doing it, a few generations ago these East Africans were tribal farmers and hunters, then we came along, drew some lines on a map, put up borders and declared them to be Kenyan. If a rich sultanate offers you enough money to support your whole village, then I'd take it.

BJ swapped from AUS to GBR at a time when we had good funding. He is a passport holder and is entitled to do so. Tactically the best thing for him to do to achieve his goals.
Aug 19, 2016 3:30 PM # 
I don't see a problem with having the best people running in the World Champs.

e.g. the first three runners in the olympic 100m hurdles were all from the US, whereas the fourth and seventh were from Michigan...

And what happened to that Scottish/English/Aussie/NZ/Dutch/? Barbour fella?
Aug 19, 2016 7:16 PM # 
Uncle JiM:
Talking about that "Sottish/English/Aussie/NZ/Dutch/? Barbour fella"

He cracked 7 ribs and 2 vertebra when a rock/boulder slipped/fell on him in the WRC in late July
Aug 19, 2016 8:30 PM # 
Geoff Peck, mainstay of the British team in the seventies, ran for Hong Kong in WOC 99, as did Workington lad Steve Holmes. From what Steve told me, I think the ex-pats just decided amongst themselves to run for HK.
Aug 19, 2016 10:25 PM # 
Thanks. So we've had a few cases, mainly personal nature. Maybe we need also a special rule that athletes without a national federation / registered within IOF would be able to compete under IOF flag.

This discussion thread is closed.