800px-olympic_flagsvgWatching the winter Olympics these last two weeks, I’ve noticed something that I’ve found really strange… even a little disturbing. I’m not sure I even know how I feel about it, perhaps you can help me process.

So, a handful of athletes at this Olympics from a variety of countries have switched national teams in order to compete. There are some athletes not quite good enough to make their national team, so they’ve been granted dual-citizenship with another country so they can compete for their team. It seems to be a win-win, the athlete gets to compete at the Olympic level and the other country gets a stronger athlete than what they have available.

This happens in other places too. Athletes switch teams at times for a better opportunity. People switch companies to get out of certain situations or take a promotion. Even in ministry, we sometimes resign at one church to work at another due to a variety of reasons. This happens all the time and I don’t have any problem with it. That’s life.

However, why does switching teams at the Olympic level grate on my nerves a little? I know the athletes aren’t giving up citizenship, just becoming dual citizens. However, national citizenship seems like such a bigger deal to me, not something someone just does so they can get into the Olympics (I don’t have much perspective on this though, perhaps if I was just barely outside of Olympic level competition, I’d consider dual citizenship as well). On the other side, it doesn’t seem exactly fair that another country would offer citizenships just to help their standings in Olympic competitions. They don’t represent that  country. I remember hearing of one girl who switched teams. When asked about it, she happily said she had not ever visited, but looks forward too. I know that if someone is wanting to become a citizen of the U.S., I’d want to know that they are really bought in to becoming an American, not just trying to get something they want (I know that there are many U.S. citizens who aren’t really bought in to being a citizenship, but that’s their right I guess.).

I don’t know, am I being too hard? Does it really matter all that much? What do you think?