Four athletes are competing under the Olympic flag instead of under their countries’ flag for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Rules state the all Olympics athletes must compete under the flag of the country they are a citizen of – and this country must have an official, organized committee dedicated to the Olympics. However, for this year’s Summer Olympics in London, four athletes will compete as international competitors under the Olympic flag, instead of the flag of their home countries.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is allowing Churandy Martina (track and field), Philip Elhage (shooting) and Rodin Dauelaar (swimming) of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as Guor Marial of South Sudan to compete as international athletes under the Olympic flag.
The Netherlands Antilles was an independent territory of the Netherlands until 2010 and had the proper national organization committee for the Olympics. However, since then, the territory is now classified as a municipality and doesn’t have the proper organizational committee necessary for a specific national Olympic qualification.
Marial is a citizen of South Sudan, which was created less than a year ago after seceding from Sudan. South Sudan does not yet have a national organization committee required by the Olympics. Marial does not want to compete under Sudan’s flag because of emotional ties to South Sudan’s independence from Sudan; he had several family members die in the fight for South Sudan. Additionally, as a child, Marial was kidnapped and forced into labor camps in Sudan. He escaped to Egypt with a friend, and eventually ended up in the United States, where he was given refugee status at age 16. Refugees are allowed to live and work in the United States because they are not allowed back to their home countries due to persecution.
For these reasons, the IOC made a gracious decision to allow these four world-class athletes to compete under the Olympic flag.
Source: Washington Times