Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 May 2014
The increasing mobility of athletes prompts a reconsideration of the presumed connection between allegiance, identity and nationality. Olympic citizenship challenges traditional understandings of community membership by calling into question the privileged status of birthright citizenship and by bringing forth a different, more fluid and changeable notion of belonging. By juxtaposing the ‘old’ world of nations competing via ‘their’ athletes, as momentary representatives of the nation, for glory, medals, dominance and prestige, to the increasing mobility of sportspersons engaging in the pursuit of athletic excellence and creative self-expression, we argue that neither the enactment of tighter rules to prevent ‘citizenship shopping’ nor the transformation of the Olympic Games into athletes' Olympics are desirable reforms. Instead, we propose a participatory growth model which would allow athletes to choose the country they intend to represent following their enmeshment into a localised web of socio-economic interactions and a flexible framework of citizenship. This cannot but have wider implications for the Olympic Charter and for politics in general.
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