The Olympic Charter states

41 Nationality of competitors *

  1. Any competitor in the Olympic Games must be a national of the country of the NOC which is entering such competitor.
  2. All matters relating to the determination of the country which a competitor may represent in the Olympic Games shall be resolved by the IOC Executive Board.

Given that if athletes hold dual citizenship, they have the ability to compete for either nation. Has there been an instance of athletes who have competed for different countries during their career? (Excluding those who competed as Independent Athletes)


I recall Merlene Ottey, who represented Jamaica (1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000) and Slovenia (2004). She obtained 9 medals representing Jamaica: 3 silver and 6 bronze.

I also recall the cross-country skier Johann Mühlegg, who competed in the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics representing Germany and the 2002 Winter Olympics representing Spain (he got medals, but was later on disqualified after testing positive on drugs).

For a comprehensive list, you can check the List of nationality transfers in sport list in Wikipedia. It is astonishing long!


Viktor Ahn won three gold medals and a bronze for the Republic of Korea in short track at the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy. He changed his nationality and became a Russian citizen and won three gold medals and one bronze for Russia in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Choi Min-Kyung, also Korean, won a gold medal in the short track 3000 m relay at the 2002 Winter Olympics and she competed for France at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

It is not that uncommon for Kenyans to change their nationality to compete for marathon, Chinese for table tennis. But it is not easy to find if any of them competed for two countries in their career in the Olympics. I will keep updating the answer if I find more information.


Zola Budd competed for Great Britain in the 1984 Olympics and for South Africa in 1992. She was noted for running barefoot.

In 1984, South Africa was barred from the Olympics because of the Apartheid, but because her father was from Great Britain, she was able to get dual citizenship and compete. There was a lot of controversy surrounding her because of her citizenship as some viewed her as racist because she didn't outwardly denounce the apartheid, but also because of a collision in the 3000-meter race with American competitor, Mary Decker.

I first read about her in the Runner's World article, After The Fall, which describes some of the struggles she went through.


Oksana Chusovitina, a world and Olympic level gymnast, is another particularly good example. She has competed for five countries including the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, and Germany due to political conflict and border changes.

She has also competed in 7 Olympics.


Those atletes won olympic medals under different flags:

Josefa Idem get married with an italian and get nationality in 1992

  • 1984 Bronze medal for Germany
  • 1992 4th place for Italy (after marriage)
  • 1996 Bronze medal for Italy
  • 2000 Gold medal for Italy
  • 2004 Silver medal for Italy
  • 2008 Silver medal for Italy

Irina Lashko take part to 4 olympic edition under 4 different flags

  • 1988 no medal for Soviet Union
  • 1992 Silver medal for Unified team
  • 1996 Silver medal for Russia
  • 2000 Bronze medal for Australia (after marriage)

Lascelles Brown has represented both Jamaica and Canada at the Winter Olympics in bobsleigh. He competed for Jamaica in 2002, where his sled set the track record at those games. In 2006, he won silver in the two-man event, and in 2010 he won bronze in the four-man event.

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