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According to rules established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), athletes must be nationals—or citizens—of the country they represent. Athletes can change the country they represent in the Olympics under certain circumstances.

Changing the Country You Represent in the Olympics

According to Olympic Charter Rule 41: Nationality of Competitors, an athlete who has dual citizenship can represent the country of their choosing in the Olympic Games. Once they have represented a specific country—in the Olympics, continental or regional games, or world or regional championships recognized by the relevant International Sports Federations (IFs)—they can only change countries under certain circumstances. Most notably:

  • At least three years have passed since the competitor last represented their former country. However, this requirement may be reduced or waived by the IOC Executive Board with the agreement of the relevant National Olympic Committee (NOC) and IF.

The IOC Executive Board is the ultimate authority on all issues related to which country a competitor represents in the Olympics and must give the final approval on any waiver of the three-year wait period.

The rules surrounding nationality are complex, and a mistake could prevent you from realizing your dream to participate in the Olympic Games.

Are You in Need of Assistance Resolving a Dispute Via Arbitration or Litigation?

If you are involved in a sports-related legal dispute, it is critical to speak with an experienced sports attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule your free consultation. Our firm is devoted to the very specific practice of sports law and has represented athletes from over 50 countries and more than 50 different sports. We are dedicated advocates for our clients and will work diligently to protect your career and professional reputation. Don't hesitate. Contact us today.

Paul Greene
Recognized as one of the world’s leading sports lawyers and a well-known speaker and author.