OT Olympians representing their non-native countries

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gym_dad32608

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Aug 7, 2018
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I am sure folks have seen the Eileen Gu story. I am mixed on it. I think I am more forgiving of athletes that go to represent non-native countries (ie. they have no tie to that country other than blood relation) if their native country does not have the opportunity for them to represent them. We have seen this in the gymnastics world, most recently with Danusia Francis, I know of other US gymnast that represented Dominican Republic because of obvious limitations. But the Gu story feels different. She most certainly could have represented the US, she came up through the US system, lives in US, is going to attend Stanford but yet decided to represent China in the Olympics, most likely because the $$ opportunities are greater as a Chinese Olympian that a US Olympian in the niche sport that she competes in. Does she deserve the criticism that is coming her way? Idk, maybe its that little bit of US pride that makes me a little upset about this. Whats also bothers me is that she has been murky on her citizenship. China is supposed to have a no dual citizenship policy for their athletes so technically she was supposed to renounce her US citizenship, but when pressed she gets vague.
 

txgymfan

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Sep 4, 2008
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There is another Chineese American athlet, a figure skater, who has received harsh criticism from the Chinese people. She is only sixteen, has renounced her US Citizenship and changed her name to be more Chineese. This young lady does not speak Chineese and would not have been able to represent the US in her sport because others are more skilled.
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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Most of the cases I have heard of (ex got media attention) have involved athletes who would not have a chance to make the USA team. In those cases, I think it goes against the spirit of the Olympic Games. If you grew up in a particular country, trained there and a citizen of that country, you should compete for that country, regardless of whether there is another country willing to have you on their team. The whole point of modern Olympics is to represent YOUR Country.

Now, if there is an athlete who has dual citizenship and has spent significant time and has ties in both countries, then I think that's different.
 

GymDadWA

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Dec 30, 2017
301
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There is a strange blend of athletes representing either their heritage or their citizenship based on what is more convenient for them. In addition regardless of what country they represent many/most athletes will train/live where the sport excels in popularity or resources even if that country doesn't have anything to do with either their heritage or citizenship.
 
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txgymfan

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Interestingly, some countries will allow an athlete with dual citizenship to compete while others will only allow single citizenship. If an athlete is going to try to compete for another country, that decision often must be made when the athlete is a teenager. I always hope that it’s made because the feel a stronger connection to the second country and can see a future there past the Olympics, especially if they give up their citizenship of the country they were raised in.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
808
Virginia
We have had girls at our gym that live and train in US but compete for their home country in the Olympics. They were not born in the US though they came here when older specifically for better training opportunities. I do think its a complex issue and for me it really depends on what kind of relationship the athlete has with the country they are competing in the Olympics for. If there is not meaningful tie back to that country I think that's cheating the system. There was some Athlete in the last winter games that was AWFUL like well below the standard for the sport and they just got duel citizenship for a random country they could make the team and have an "Olympic Experience" I think thats an insult to all the athletes that work so hard and are just in a country/sport where there is a lot of depth.
 
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Janneke

Proud Parent
Feb 12, 2022
45
Interesting, this applies to my little one. Born in country 1, citizenship of country 2, lives in country 3. Right now representing any of those countries is a long way off (if ever), but regardless of whether she will go to the Olympics or never goes beyond our local region, I need to start sorting out her paperwork
 
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