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Citizenship

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IOC rules for citizenship
The Olympic Charter requires that an athlete be a national of the country for which they compete. Dual nationals may compete for either country, as long as three years have passed since the competitor competed for the former country. However, if the NOCs and IF involved agree, then the IOC Executive Board may reduce or cancel this period. This waiting period exists only for athletes who previously competed for one nation and want to compete for another. If an athlete gains a new or second nationality, then they do not need to wait any designated amount of time before participating for the new or second nation. The IOC is only concerned with issues of citizenship and nationality after individual nations have granted citizenship to athletes.

Reasons for changing citizenship
Athletes will sometimes become citizens of a different nation so they are able to compete in the Olympics. This is often because they are drawn to sponsorships or training facilities. It could also be because an athlete is unable to qualify from within their original country. In preparation for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi Russian Olympic Committee naturalized a Korean-born short-track speed-skater Ahn Hyun-soo and an American-born snowboarder Vic Wild. They won a total of 5 golds and 1 bronze in Sochi.

Citizenship changes and disputes
One of the most famous cases of changing nationality for the Olympics was Zola Budd, a South African runner who emigrated to the United Kingdom because there was an apartheid-era ban on the Olympics in South Africa. Budd was eligible for British citizenship because her grandfather was born in Britain, but British citizens accused the government of expediting the citizenship process for her.

Other notable examples include Kenyan runner Bernard Lagat, who became a United States citizen in May 2004. The Kenyan constitution required that one renounce their Kenyan citizenship when they became a citizen of another nation. Lagat competed for Kenya in the 2004 Athens Olympics even though he had already become a United States citizen. According to Kenya, he was no longer a Kenyan citizen, jeopardising his silver medal. Lagat said he started the citizenship process in late 2003 and did not expect to become an American citizen until after the Athens games.

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