The IOC surprised the world by approving Guor Marial, a South-Sudanese refugee living in the United States, to compete in the Olympics even though he is not technically under any nation’s flag. Marial is a gifted runner, and he had Olympic hopes. After living in the United States for eleven years, he has completed all phases of the citizenship process. But back in June of 2011, he was notified that he must undergo a background check before his citizenship could be officially processed. Over a year later, it has still not been completed, leaving Marial without the ability to compete in the Games as an American.
But what about his native country, you say? The Republic of South Sudan just became an independent nation back in July of 2011. Still getting its bearings on the international scene, South Sudan does not have a National Olympic Committee yet. The IOC requires that each nation that competes in the Olympics have it’s own NOC. Faced with no other option, Marial petitioned the IOC to allow him to compete as an independent under the Olympic flag.
Surprisingly enough, the often fickle IOC saw things his way and have approved him. He will compete without a nation.
One has to wonder, however, how the United States could take so long to process his request for citizenship when he had already completed all the obstacles in his way. Marial did the citizen test, interview, gave his fingerprints, and satisfied every obligation a person applying for citizenship must perform. And yet, 13 months after he should have been all set, he is still locked out by a “background check” that apparently never came to be. With so many people illegally in our country, it looks like we would want to be a little more vigilant about helping those that try to do things the right way. Maybe this is why so many people choose to remain illegal and not undergo the citizenship process. You jump through all the hoops like they want you to do, doing things that half the natural-born American citizens couldn’t do, and still, they stonewall you.
How quick would Marial’s papers go through if they suspected he might win Olympic Gold? Hmm…