Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympians Without a Country

Fascinating.  I never knew an athlete could compete in the Olympics without representing a specific country. (thx Melissa J.)

From Dead Spin...
They were hard to miss: the "Independent Olympic Athletes," walking under the Olympic flag, dancing and jumping their way through the Parade of Nations. But what's their deal? In an Olympics with 204 teams how did four athletes find themselves effectively stateless? 
Marial considers himself a citizen of South Sudan, the world's newest country after declaring its independence just over a year ago. But South Sudan, caught up in continued fighting as well as crippling famine, has been too concerned with nation-building to form an Olympic committee. And without an Olympic committee, he can't march under the South Sudanese flag. But just a week before the Games, the IOC approved Marial's petition to compete as an independent athlete. 
Reginald de Windt, a judoka, Lee-Marvin Bonevacia, a distance runner, and Philipine van Aanholt, a sailor, all hail from Curacao, which until 2010 was part of the Netherlands Antilles. That year, the Netherlands Antilles dissolved itself as an independent nation to become constituent countries of the Netherlands. The Netherland Antilles Olympic Committee hoped to keep functioning, but the IOC withdrew recognition last year. The three athletes would have been allowed to compete for the Dutch, but they don't identify as Dutch citizens, so they fought for—and won—the chance to compete as independents.

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