At a time when the concept of the Commonwealth and the logic of holding a ‘Commonwealth Games’ is often questioned, spare a thought for Falkland Islands or Gibraltar which, along with nine other nations, have no international arena but this in which to showcase their sporting skills. All 11 countries are barred from participating in the Olympics.
Blame this on politics. While representatives of the Falkland Islands claim they are discriminated against by the International Olympic Association (IOC), Gibraltar feels the tussle between Spain and Britain over who owns ‘The Rock’ has had a direct influence on its plea to be accepted in the Olympics. Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to Britain in 1713, but Spain still claims part of the territory.
“I don’t know the exact date but around 15 years ago, the IOC rejected our plea saying they didn’t want any more small nations included. I find that insulting,” said Mike Summers, secretary general of the Falkland Islands Sports association.
"Yet there are tiny countries like Bermuda and Cayman Islands who were accepted by the IOC when they applied." The IOC has 219 affiliates.
"It was IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch who used to veto our plea because he is Spanish and Spain have laid claim on Gibraltar,” said 60-year-old Joe Santos of Gibraltar.
"Because of the cold relations between Spain and UK, our applications have been rejected regularly,” he added.
The only way out, says Summers, is for the smaller nations to lobby together for inclusion in the IOC. But different national priorities have prevented them from doing so.
Representatives of the other non-Olympic countries - Anguilla, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Montserrat, Niue, Norfolk Islands, Tokelau, Turks & Caicos Islands - refused to speak out, saying they preferred to concentrate on the Games.