Olympics: IOC to respect Scotland vote, athletes protected - Bach

Tue Sep 9, 2014 6:58am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee promised Scottish athletes' interests would be "safeguarded" ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics should Scotland vote in favor of independence on Sept. 18.

If Scotland votes to break away from the United Kingdom, Scottish athletes who competed for Britain at the 2012 summer Olympics in London would not be eligible to do so with that country in Rio.

"We respect democratic decisions. We always do. But you can see from previous decisions we have been taking in similar cases that we are always safeguarding the interests of the athletes," IOC President Thomas Bach told Reuters.

In order for Scottish athletes to compete under an independent flag in Brazil in less than two years time, should they vote in favor of independence, they would need a national Olympic committee (NOC).

For that to happen and for the NOC to be recognized by the IOC it would first require a United Nations recognition of the independent nation of Scotland.

The rival campaigns in Scotland's fight over independence are running neck-and-neck nine days before the referendum, with a surge in support for those who wish to break away from the UK.

The number of people saying they would vote "No" to independence had dropped to 39 percent, down from 45 percent a month ago. "Yes" support was slightly behind at 38 percent but had gained ground from 32 percent a month ago.

More than four million Scots and residents of Scotland are eligible to vote in next week's referendum.   Continued...

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu province August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song