Your name is Stephen Cherono, but in Qatar, you’re known as Saif Saeed Shaheen. You’re from Kenya. You were both born there and lived there, but you call Qatar your new home. You are one of Qatar’s naturalized long-distance runners, along with Albert Chepkurui. His name is Ahmad Hassan Abdullah. Qatar is one of the countries which rely heavily on naturalized athletes, along with Azerbaijan and several other countries that buy other athletes. This causes a lot of debate on the fairness of the competition. They believe that is a form of betrayal and cheating. This led to everyone asking the question, should Olympic athletes be allowed to represent a country other than their own? It should be allowed. True Olympic spirit doesn’t care about countries, chances, or success. When competing in an international competition, the country shouldn’t really matter. One may hear the roars of a crowd when a country is called, but in reality, only the athletes have the talent. The majority of people can’t be associated with being good at something depending on where they’re from. Not all Canadians are good at hockey. Only some hockey players have the skill to represent a country, but that doesn’t mean they are tied to that country. They can choose to represent another if it means that their talent is still there. True Olympic pride really means that pride outweighs reputations. A country can be proud of the athlete, but they aren’t forced to compete for them. They compete for pride. Athletes are the only thing that matter in a competition. It should only be fair that the country should be disregarded. In addition to this, many local basketball players can transfer to help another team (or for money purposes). If an NHL player can transfer between cities and even countries, why can’t an international sportsman do that?In terms of NHL and NBA transfers, you can attribute the point that a transfer “gives a chance to another player who couldn’t otherwise play”. Several NBA players have already done this. The same can be said on a much larger scale! Take Oksana Chusovitina, for example. The Uzbek-born gymnast emigrated from Uzbekistan to work in Germany. Once competition became more fierce and strong, she moved back to Uzbekistan and represented her home nation instead. The original move, in said “country transfer”, gave the athlete better resources and better training facilities. A different economy brings different and possibly better training. This is a double-sided topic, because although training is good, the government will have to pay for the athletes training and support them by spending money. People argue that this is a waste of the government’s money. This is true, but other athletes who wouldn’t get a chance otherwise could choose to represent another country, which offers benefits for both sides!An example of a benefit for another country is the fact that transferring athletes may help other countries! When both the athlete and the country make the deal that can change a career, the athlete is offered a passport and some money. This situation is another touchy topic, because this is considered another form of cheating by some. Kenya is an example of a team that has many long-distance runners who are representatives the country. Due to the large competition for the limited spots, many long-distance runners are often sent back, even though they have won various other competitions in their home country. To get another chance, they travel to a country halfway across the world and register there. They become naturalized athletes and beat all the competition in that countries. Although this is viewed as a negative way to become the best, this brings many other positive effects too! Getting naturalized athletes means the team can become larger or more diverse. Of all Qatari medals, one has been won by a naturalized Bulgarian, Angel Popov. The weightlifter, known as Said Saif Asaad, won an Olympic bronze, being one of the only Middle-Eastern weightlifters ever to win a medal! Azerbaijan had a similar situation in 2016. Their 56-man team comprised of 35 foreign athletes, and out of their 18 medals in Rio, 10 medals, including a gold, were won by non-Azerbaijani athletes, coming from Russia, the Ukraine, Iran, and all the way from Cuba!To conclude, Olympic athletes should be allowed to choose which country they represent, and their qualifications shouldn’t be limited by their nationality, ability, or successes. All athletes deserve the same treatment, even if they are playing for a city league or even for a continent. They should be allowed to share facilities and coaches with other athletes who might need them, and finally, athletes should be able to help a different country than their own country. The freedom to choose what country an athlete wants to represent is a topic that should be unaffected by other people’s beliefs.


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