The 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil have few days before they hibernate for another four years. 206 nations competed in the 2016 games. I label them nations (a common people) as some aren’t countries, but are in fact territories of other countries. Yes, I’m really particular about the difference between a country and a State. For example Bermuda (part of the UK) and Hong Kong (special administrative zone of China) are not countries. I’m sure China had mixed feelings about Chinese Taipei being present (aka Taiwan, but their official name is Republic of China… not the People’s republic of China – that’s mainland China).
The disputed States of Israel, Palestine and Kosovo were also waving their flags at the opening ceremony.
Can you imagine all the politics involved in sending out invitations? Now that’s a diplomatic headache.
But there was one country not allowed to attend – Kuwait. Yes, Kuwait is a Sovereign State recognised throughout the world so there are no issues there. The problem was that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had cancelled Kuwait’s invitation the games. Back in 2015, Kuwait passed laws allowing it to influence/interfere in its sporting committees. The IOC didn’t like this. It told Kuwait to reverse the legislation or rip up their 2016 invite. Kuwait didn’t budge, so the IOC told them they weren’t welcome at the 2016 Rio games.
And wouldn’t that suck if you were a professional athlete? Yes it would.
Fortunately the IOC had a solution – they allowed the disaffected athletes to compete under the Independent Olympic Athletes Team. This team flew the Olympic flag as its designated home country. The Kuwaiti team was allowed to compete at the 2016 games, but in a ‘don’t mention the war’ scenario, where references to Kuwait were struck from the record.
It’s a gold for Kuwait… sort of.
Then a funny thing happened. Men’s trap shooting competitor Fehaid Al-Deehani won gold, for the Independent Olympic Athletes Team. It was the first time the Independent Olympic Athletes Team had won. As the Kuwaiti stood on the dais with his gold medal, the anthem of the Olympics was played proudly.