Olympics could pit Scot v Scot in Rio if Scotland becomes independent
SCOTTISH Olympians could end up competing against each other at the 2016 Games if the country becomes independent as they would have a choice of representing either Scotland or Team GB.
Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of UK Sport, which funds Britain’s elite athletes, said that if Scotland does become independent in 2014,it may adopt the same status as already exists in Northern Ireland where residents are given the choice of competing for Team GB or Ireland.
At the London Games, some competitors from the province chose to take part under the Irish flag, while others decided to compete in British colours.
As First Minister Alex Salmond has said he hopes a separate Scottish team will compete in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum opens up the prospect of Scots athletes being forced to choose which team to represent.
Nicholl told Scotland on Sunday: “Should Scotland back independence and subsequently establish an independent Scottish Olympic and Paralympic team, this would have implications for Scottish athletes across the Olympic and Paralympic sports who are members of our World Class Performance Programme.
“They may, for example, be given a choice as to who they decide to represent at the Games, as athletes from Northern Ireland do.”
However, the body said there would be no question of changing its approach to Scottish stars such as swimmer Michael Jamieson, rower Katherine Grainger or cyclist Sir Chris Hoy – who took his sixth gold in Team GB colours in London – in the run-up to the possible referendum in 2014.
Nicholl added: “This is a situation we will need to monitor closely in liaison with the Scottish Government.”
Her comments come after Sir Craig Reedie, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told Scotland on Sunday last week that Scottish sportsmen and women would remain with Team GB no matter what happens in the 2014 referendum, because of the short time scale between the vote and the Rio Games.
He also claimed that Scots all believed the present set up worked “very well and it works to the benefit of Scottish athletes”.
The Scottish Government said it intends to field a team in Rio in 2016, pointing to the speedy entry into the Olympic family of other new nations such as Montenegro, which gained independence in 2006, and competed at the Olympics in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Scotland already meets criteria for entry, which stipulate that a country must have at least five national federations affiliated to international sports governing bodies.
The government also said the decision on whether Scottish-resident athletes could compete for Team GB after independence would be up to the IOC. In the case of Northern Ireland, residents there are allowed to choose between Team GB and Ireland because they are all able to take dual nationality if they wish.
Similarly, the SNP has previously said it envisages a dual nationality system in an independent Scotland. In a paper in 2009, the Scottish Government stated: “Given Scotland’s close ties to the other parts of the British Isles a positive approach to dual citizenship would be essential.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Eligibility for national teams in international sport is a matter for the relevant international sports governing bodies – in the case of the Olympics, this would be the IOC.
“Under all constitutional circumstances, sportscotland will ensure that high performance athletes continue get the best possible training that is right for the individual, their circumstances and their sport.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West