Belfast Telegraph

Team UK name more inclusive than Team GB

By Mark Brotherston

The Conservative Party peer, Lord Coe, is currently contesting an election to become president of the International Association of Athletics Associations.

If he is successful, it would be great news for UK sport, because one of its biggest advocates will have an enormous say in the governance of world athletics.

Lord Coe says that he wants to stop the recruitment of 'plastic Brits', who have no connection with the country, but come from oversees to compete for our teams, to advance their careers or to earn more money.

That's an extremely worthy campaign, which can only benefit home-grown athletes.

My party colleague, Neil Wilson, who is the Conservatives' local spokesman for culture, arts and sport, has asked Lord Coe to bring his influence to bear on another issue.

We believe that it's about time the Team GB Olympic and athletics teams were rebranded to become 'Team UK'.

In Northern Ireland, many of us are incredibly proud of the achievements of British athletes and Olympians, but the team's branding does not do enough to make Northern Irish people feel included properly.

Great Britain or Britain are both used commonly as short-hand for the UK.

Strictly speaking, that's not exactly geographically or factually accurate.

The Team GB brand causes some concern, because the island of Great Britain does not include Northern Ireland or some of the other islands and territories encompassed by the United Kingdom.

We've argued that, in the future, the Olympic team and the athletics teams should use Team UK instead.

Of course, it isn't a life and death issue, but it would be a gesture of respect toward all the magnificent Northern Irish sportspeople who have competed under the Team GB banner over the years.

It's also worth remembering that a great people from these shores volunteered during the London Olympics, helping to make that tournament a massive success.

Neil has contacted Lord Coe and Helen Grant, the minister for sport, to suggest that they give a name change serious consideration.

It is a small detail to tweak, but it would make the team branding more accurate and inclusive.

  • Mark Brotherston is the Northern Ireland Conservatives representative in North Down

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