Nationality in sport. Issues and problems

14 Nov 2005
IOC News

This was the theme of the seminar organised by the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) on 10 November. Gathered at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, 138 participants from various countries discussed this topical subject and exchanged their points of view.
“Case by case basis”
Nationality changes are becoming increasingly frequent in sport, for numerous reasons. The rules on obtaining nationality vary considerably from one country to another, with the result that there are differences in the way athletes are treated. The international sports bodies are often overwhelmed by this growing problem, forcing them to react on a case-by-case basis.  
“Exchanging points of view”
The seminar was a chance to produce an overview of the situation, look at concrete examples and to discuss what sporting nationality represents, by debating its future, limits and constraints. The speakers’ comments were followed closely and gave rise to numerous questions. Each country and federation has its own rules, statutes and exceptions. The legal, economic and socio-political aspects inherent in nationality changes were addressed and commented upon in depth. It seems that no global, long-term solution is in sight. Hence the usefulness of exchanging points of view by the various parties concerned and discussing means of achieving this.
Common denominator
After the seminar, a round table was held including the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, CIES Director and IOC Executive Board member Denis Oswald, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and IOC member President René Fasel, and various other participants. On this occasion, the IOC President agreed about the complexity of the issues, noting that harmonising rules based on a common denominator for all sports federations merited further study. He also stressed that the notion of national sport was not likely to disappear, and that it was important to remember that nationality problems were not a purely sporting phenomenon but one linked to many other areas.
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