|The Olympics is a chance for African nations to build national pride and prestige. There is a need for greater strategic planning in athletics in order to remain competitive (Photo credit: MikeBlyth)|
The Olympics is the biggest global sporting event that offers countries an opportunity to show their talents. It allows nations to brand or promote themselves through sports in a way that expensive advertising cannot – It is what a sport like basketball has done to raise the profile of the USA, or short distance running for Jamaica or long distance for Ethiopia and Kenya, respectively. Winning a medal at an Olympic game is the root of envy from other nations. It is a source of pride from the country's citizens. National glory is important for the people of a nation. It is therefore an arena where questions of citizenship are important and can quickly become contentious. The Olympic Charter requires that an athlete is a national of the country they compete for. There are restrictions for athletes that change or switch citizenship whereby an athlete a losses citizenship from one country in order to gain citizenship of another country. There is a three year time frame that needs to pass in order for these athletes to compete for a different country. Exceptions to this rule can be made though by the Olympic governing bodies. Dual Citizens though have no such restrictions and can compete for either country where they hold citizenship.
|LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Richard Banda is the First Gentleman of Malawi and a former Olympic athlete for Malawi. He arrived in England for the London 2012 Olympic Games to support the Malawi athletes (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
Competitive Advantage and Citizenship (part two)
Taking advantage of Dual Citizenship is important for African nations wanting to have a competitive advantage in athletic games. Being competitive at the Olympics in a globalized world is just as much about having an effective athletic management strategy as it is about the athletic ability of the Olympians. For African countries, getting medals is not just a matter of poor training facilities, or lack of financial resources.Its a matter of leveraging all available or potential human resources. Part of an effective global strategy is is inclusive of all of the nations people and thus increases the chance of a country to bring home medals. Therefore, citizenship matters. In the past few years alone, there has been an increase in African athletes competing for non-African teams. There has also been an increase in non-African nations coveting successful African athletes. There are numerous examples of African players that have changed their citizenship in order to compete at the Olympics i.e. South African born runner Zola Budd competed for England; Kenyan born runner Bernard Lagat competed for the USA; Kenyan born cyclist Chris Froome competed for Great Britain. Many countries in Africa have realized that lack of Dual Citizenship is costing them players and decreasing their competitiveness. Many countries have now taken the important step towards leveraging their athletes. Both Kenya and South Africa now offer Dual Citizenship to their nationals. It is in the best interest of these countries in Africa to offer Dual Citizenship so that they can increase their competitiveness at international events through policies that encourage the retention of athletes.
|LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Tony Skinn #4 of Nigeria shoots in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Lithuania and Nigeria in London, England. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)|
|Olympics in Barcelona (Photo credit: cliff1066™)|
This article originally appeared August 1, 2012 and August 11, 2012 on: www.rebrandafrica.org