TEAM Scotland could miss out on competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016 if the country votes for independence, according to a leading Games official.
The stumbling block would be whether Scotland would be recognised as an independent country by the international community, according to International Olympic Committee vice-president Sir Craig Reedie.
The SNP government says that Scotland would formally become an independent nation in March 2016 in the event of a Yes vote.
But Sir Craig, himself a Scot, has indicated that there may not be enough time between this target date and the start of the 2016 Games to ratify a new national Olympic committee (Noc).
For that to happen, prospective Nocs must have at least five national governing bodies affiliated to international federations – a test easily passed by Scotland – but also be considered “an independent nation recognised by the international community”.
Given the target date, Sir Craig said he thought it would be “very, very difficult” for a newly independent Scottish team to take part. So Scottish athletes would be faced with the choice of competing in a Great Britain vest – which would test public feelings – or missing out altogether.
“I have no idea how long that process of recognition will take. The IOC has tended to use recognition by the United Nations,” said Sir Craig. “Many of the sports will have qualifying competitions that have all but finished. I don’t know if it could be done in time. I suspect it would be very, very difficult.”
A working group on Scottish sport, set up by the Scottish Parliament and chaired by former first minister Henry McLeish, concluded in May that a Scottish team at the Rio Games was feasible. UK Sport’s chief executive, Liz Nicholl, last month said a Yes vote would weaken the medal chances of Scottish and British athletes.