Why the UK should have separate Olympic teams

Team GB took 311 athletes to the 2008 Olympic Games according to the Team GB website.

Yet the IOC only provides each country a limited number of slots for their athletes.

That meant for instance Hayley Haining couldn’t go to Beijing when Paula Radcliffe declared herself fit.

Now there are always going to be losers in any qualifying system for the limited slot placement in the Olympics.

But separate Olympic teams for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would widen the opportunities for our athletes, and ensure that as many athletes as possible fill each countries slots.

Consider this:

The UK with a population of around 60 million sent 311 athletes.

England’s population of around 50 million is slightly higher than Spain’s 46 million. Spain sent 312 athletes to Beijing. (These and other countries figures obtained from the Yahoo Olympic site.) You’d probably be talking at least the 311 athletes in a English Olympic team. (The Team GB breaks down England by region but subtracting the other countries totals from the 311 Team GB total gives an English total of 268 athletes.)

Scotland’s population is around 5 million. Slightly higher than Croatia’s 4.6 million. Croatia sent 110 athletes to Beijing. Probably the same numbers as a possible Scottish team, although New Zealand with 4.2 million sent 209 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 26 athletes at the 2008 Olympics.)

Wales’ population is around 3 million. Just slightly smaller than Lithuania. They sent 74 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 14 Welsh athletes in the Beijing Olympics.)

Northern Ireland’s population is around 1.8 million. Not far off Slovenia’s 2 million. They sent 62 athletes. (A quick filter in the Team GB site gives 3 athletes, although Northern Irish athletes are also eligible for the Irish Olympic squad.)

Let’s add that up:-

England 311
Scotland 110
Wales 74
Northern Ireland 62

Thats a rough estimate of 557. That’s an increase in athletes for each country from their 2008 totals.

Might even be more if the Home Nations can begin to emulate the New Zealand population density rate. The UK – as four countries – could possibly send about 700 athletes, more than double the present number; a number that would never be possible for the single British Olympic Committee given the UK’s population.

The key here is widening participation in sport for our top athletes.

Athletes that have experience in the Olympics generally do better in the next one. They know what the Olympics is all about, they have seen what it takes to compete at that level, and work that bit harder to achieve their Olympic dreams next time.

Athletes that don’t make the slot places may just give up altogether.

With 4 different Olympic committees, sport all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could flourish.

And of course, there’s no reason for the IOC to object to four different IOC bodies in the UK. There were 12 territories represented at the 2008 Olympics that are not recognised countries.

Bermuda has its own representation. Britain own those islands; Bermuda is not independent or have a seat at the UN. Bermuda sent 6 athletes to the Olympics. And for a population of 66 000 people that’s simply staggering.

Thats almost 1 in 10000 people there being Olympic athletes.

Or England sending 5000 athletes to Beijing.


4 Responses to Why the UK should have separate Olympic teams

  1. Not as straight forward as that. I believe the Spaniards qualified in Basketball, water polo, Volleyball which when taking into accounts squads takes up a great deal of the difference.

    Taking the nations seperately there are number of team sports that GB does qualify for rowing, equestrian, gymnastics, sailing, cycling etc where our individual teams outwith England would not qualify whereas some but not all of Englands would. Take away centralised trainind, funding etc and we’d actually get less and less competitors not more sorry.

  2. I say that as a benifiary some time ago of pre-lottery funding.

  3. northbritain says:

    The argument about team sports is nonsense.

    Almost every nation enters team sports in the Olympics. Iceland had a handball team which won Silver at the Olympics. (With a population of over 300 000 – it sent 28 athletes.)

    As for centralised training, I’m in favour of providing more facilities in Scotand. The 2014 Commonwealth Games should help provide those needed facilities.

    What’s to stop an independent Scotland in providing its own National Lottery to help Scottish sport? Nothing.

    Even if you used Slovakia – a poorer country than Scotland – roughly the same population, they took 58 athletes to Beijng; over double our 26.

    Less competitors in an independent team?

    Its not likely at all.

  4. anonymous says:

    Other countries must think it ridiculous how we have separate football teams and yet places like say Galicia or Bavaria don’t. But yes I do personally support separate teams because I support separate countries, the breakup of the UK.

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