The British Olympic Association (BOA) and the Olympic Council for Ireland (OCI) have enjoyed a close and harmonious relationship for many years over a range of issues including the complex issue of Olympic representation by athletes from Northern Ireland.

Irrespective of the difficult political past sport has played an important role in breaking down barriers and breaching political divides.

Sport in Northern Ireland, particularly when it comes to the issue of international representation, is a complex matter. Citizens from Northern Ireland are entitled to hold either or both Irish and British passports. International representation is achieved through the appropriate governing body affiliated to the respective International Federation. In some instances this is an All-Ireland governing body, e.g. boxing, rowing, swimming, tennis and triathlon and in some instances it is through a Great Britain and Northern Ireland body, e.g. archery, athletics, gymnastics, judo and sailing. Additionally in some sports, e.g. hockey, athletes can choose which country they represent at Olympic level at the start of their international career.

For decades this complex structure has been allowed to operate for the benefit of sport in Northern Ireland. Unbeknown to each other both the OCI and BOA have constitutions approved by the IOC acknowledging territorial responsibility for Northern Ireland.

Simon Clegg, the BOA’s Chief Executive, said: ‘I am extremely happy with the way in which the BOA and OCI have worked together to ensure that no sportsmen or sportswomen from Northern Ireland have been disadvantaged when it comes to Olympic representation. I see no reason why this should not continue.

‘We shall continue an open dialogue with the OCI on all Olympic matters and look forward to working with them to maintain the status quo for the benefit of sport in Northern Ireland.’

For more information contact:

Philip Pope (ext. 233) in the BOA Media Office on 0208 871 2677.