Will the EU ever field a single team for the Olympics?

01 2008

Will the EU ever field a single team for the Olympics?

The flame is out, the athletes are home, the stadiums have fallen silent...the Olympic Games are over for another four years. In the run up to the Olympics, Parliament gave considerable attention to the political and human rights aspects of the Games in China, and will return to the subject in future debates, but meanwhile the world has also been gripped by the sporting competition and some magnificent individual achievements. We asked some MEPs about the sporting aspects of the Beijing Games.

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Brussels : Manolis Mavrommatis, a Greek Christian Democrat and member of the China delegation says that competing under an EU flag “would add many messages of unity to our Union. It would be magnificent.“ But, he went on “imagine if we had Olympic Games with five continents, each one competing on behalf of all of its countries. It's a good idea...But it would not be the Olympics.“

Romanian Liberal Ramona Nicole Mănescu disagrees. “Representation in the Olympics is by separate nations and that's how it should stay. If the EU had had one single team, many Member States would not have been able to send representatives...I believe in a Europe of diversity and competition.“

Hungarian Christian Democrat Pál Schmitt doesn't see a unified team any time soon: “EU countries are represented separately at the games. We can be proud of the performance of the bigger European states, which have done their strength, history and traditions justice. I do not think that there will be a unified European team representing the EU in the near future, as each country is proud of its identity and and maintains serious sporting traditions.“

Greek Socialist Katerina Batzeli, also a member of the China delegation, said, “The main value of the Olympic Games has always been and should remain fair competition and the spirit of the Olympic truce. Irrespective of whether European athletes compete in national teams or a single EU one, what is truly important is the message the EU should be promoting for athletics and culture.“

MEPs favourite sports

Mr Mavrommatis “especially enjoyed the athletics, artistic gymnastics, basketball and female football. It was another good experience to add to my past attendances of the Olympic Games to describe them for television and press.“

Ms Batzeli particularly enjoyed the opening ceremony “during which all cultural and historic dimensions of China but also of the world were shown in an impressive and original way through...audiovisual technology and cinematography.“ She also followed the athletics, swimming and rowing. “As a former athlete of the sport, I watched the 100m men's final with great interest. Sadly there were also cases of doping, a problem against which the EU and all member states should take immediate action.“

“It goes without saying that as a President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee I was mostly following sports that Hungarians excel in: kayak and canoeing and water polo,“ Mr Schmitt said. “But as a former Olympic champion in fencing, I also attended as many fencing tournaments as I could.“

Source by Flashsport

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