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Scottish independence: 'Scotland Olympic team could be in Rio'

Scotland will press ahead with plans to have Olympic and Paralympic teams at Rio 2016 if the country votes for independence in a year's time, says Scottish Sports Minister Shona Robison.

Ahead of the referendum on 18 September, 2014, the MSP told BBC Sport she was confident Scotland would meet the strict conditions in order to become an Olympic nation.

"We're comfortable and assured Scotland will have its own Olympic and Paralympic team. It will bring many benefits," she said.

Robison, the Scottish National Party MSP for Dundee City East, said more Scots would get the chance to participate in Brazil and future Games if independence became a reality.

She also insisted Scottish athletes would not be disadvantaged by independence, even though they would be denied access to traditional funding streams and facilities.

"We have made substantial investments," said Robison, explaining that Scottish athletes would have access to a "fantastic new velodrome and a fantastic new sports arena" in Glasgow as well as a new £25m performance centre for sport in Edinburgh.

But not everyone is convinced that Scotland - which hosts the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - would be better off competing as a separate nation.

Badminton player Imogen Bankier, who represented Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Britain at the 2012 Olympics, has told BBC Sport that her country does not have the facilities, funding or depth of talent to make a major impact at future Olympics.

"We're lucky with the way that it stands now for Scotland," said the 25-year-old from Glasgow.

"We can tap into the English system and be part of Team GB when it suits us and use it our advantage. Independence would mean we would lose that. That's only going to see sports suffer."

For Scotland to become an Olympic nation in its own right, it would need to fulfil several criteria:

  • To be an independent state recognised by the international community
  • To have a solid sporting structure, such as national federations, sports clubs, etc
  • To have at least five national federations affiliated to international federations with sports included in the Olympic programme

"We meet that criteria," insisted Robison.

She said that being recognised by the United Nations as an independent nation "won't be an issue", citing the example of Montenegro.

Part of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro became an independent country in 2006 and competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

It is not known at this stage what a Scottish Olympic team might mean for other sports in which British teams compete, including the British and Irish Lions (rugby union) and the Davis Cup (tennis).

In response to Robison's claims, the British Olympic Association (BOA) said it would wait until the results of the referendum to address the issue.

"At this point in time, Team GB comprises athletes from all four home nations," said a BOA spokesperson.

"Many athletes, including Scottish ones, have contributed to our Olympic success and we always strive to recognise the valuable contribution made by the home nation's athletes.

"Until the referendum has been held, we won't know the outcome and possible consequences for a British Olympic team. Once we have those facts, we will address them."

Fifty-five Scots competed at the 2012 Olympics, accounting for just over 10% of Team GB's 542-strong squad.

They had a hand in more than 18% of British medals won - 12 out of 65 - and almost a quarter of golds - seven out of 29.

But if Scotland had fielded a separate team in London, it would have only been guaranteed three medals, with the other 11 coming in team events featuring both Scottish and non-Scottish athletes.

Andy Murray and Sir Chris Hoy won gold in tennis and track cycling respectively, while Michael Jamieson claimed a silver in the swimming pool.

Bankier, now based in Scotland after moving from the Team GB base in Milton Keynes, rejected suggestions the nation could attain significant Olympic success on its own.

"If you look at the Scottish athletes that actually live and train in Scotland, I think of the [London Olympic] medallists, you could narrow it down to just a few maybe three or four," she said.

"The majority are in GB systems, so I think it's a bit of a duff statistic.

"Scotland does have lots of talented athletes, but the opportunity to be part of GB means we'll be high up the medal table.

"I'm sorry to say that wouldn't happen if we went independent."

Despite Bankier's claims, the chief executive of Badminton Scotland,Anne Smillie, believes independence would benefit Scottish badminton players.

"The GB programme failed to produce a medal in Beijing and London," said Smillie. "We have serious doubts about the viability of the Rio plan currently delivered in Milton Keynes.

"Badminton Scotland could run a successful Scottish Olympic programme, depending on funding.

"If we became independent then we would be in a good position. It would allow the Scottish performance team to regain control of the training programme for our top players."

SportScotland, an agency responsible for sport development, said some Scots might need to continue training outside the country to remain competitive.

"It's conceivable that, should the people of Scotland vote for independence, members of the Scottish Olympic and Paralympic teams could continue to have their training and coaching sessions in England, or indeed elsewhere in the world," said spokesman Will McLeish.

For example, he said that SportScotland was "working tirelessly" with the governing body of Scottish cycling to ensure Scottish cyclists got access to the "right competitions and training programmes".

But he added that finding a solution for slalom canoeing was "more of a challenge" because Scotland does not have facilities up to the standard of Lee Valley, where its canoeists currently train in England.

Bankier also said it would be a "shame" if Scottish athletes, including herself, were denied the opportunity to compete for Team GB in future.

But Robison said Bankier would be able to choose whether to represent Scotland or Team GB.

"I would be entirely happy for the matter to remain with individuals in terms of which team they wanted to compete for," she said. "Many will be participating for Scotland in the Commonwealths next year."

The British government has yet to respond on the issue.

BBC

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this is my biggest hope :)

Do you really think Balkanising the UK in the current economic climate is wise?

It just seems so drastic and expensive.

I can understand the desire for change in Scotland- I am of Scottish background myself- but I'm extremely skeptical of such a move.

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So, the US won't be one of the last ones to enter since in portuguese it's "Estados Unidos da América", the same for the UK (Reino Unido).

But Team GB (as they will still be known, whether or not Scotland enters its own team) will be alphabetised as Grã-Bretanha.

Do you really think Balkanising the UK in the current economic climate is wise?

It just seems so drastic and expensive.

I can understand the desire for change in Scotland- I am of Scottish background myself- but I'm extremely skeptical of such a move.

It's a theoretical advantage of being part of a semi-federal European Union; small nations currently absorbed within larger states in the EU should be able to cut out the middle man (in this case, Westminster; elsewhere notably Madrid) and benefit directly from the overall strength of the federal structure.

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I think there is an upper-limit to that though. Especially with a federalist state. Scotland certainly spends more currently than their tax base would allow if they were independent. Oil revenue will only get you so far when it is running out.

Edited by faster
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Interestingly, British people have an awful time pronouncing Grã-Bretanha fluently. Scotland would do right in leave the UK.

Well, Grã-Bretanha is NOT English. Why should a native English-speaker be very facile with it? Any more than a Brazilian would have an easy time with Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll. :blink:

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I think there is an upper-limit to that though. Especially with a federalist state. Scotland certainly spends more currently than their tax base would allow if they were independent. Oil revenue will only get you so far when it is running out.

Scotland gets 9.3% of UK spending, but generates 9.9% of UK taxes

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What about defence, etc? Things not covered by this figure that Scotland will have to pay for after independence.

Scotland would have its own defence forces and would inherit and maintain our military bases and regiments. We would continue to work in partnership with other nations. It would be for future Scottish Governments to shape a defence policy best suited to the country’s needs. Our defence profile could be similar to neighbouring nations such as Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Norway. Scotland’s contribution to UK defence spending is around £3.3billion. Experts from the Royal United Services Institute have confirmed that this would be more than enough to support a defence force that could be “extraordinarily good” by 2030. The UK Government only spend around £2 billion of the defence budget in Scotland. The SNP advocate a defence budget of £2.5 billion – less than we currently contribute, and more than is currently spent. We would get rid of Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland, saving money that could be bette spent elsewhere. Crucially, it would be for the Scottish Government to decide whether members of the Scottish defence forces should be sent abroad in support of international action.

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Scotland gets 9.3% of UK spending, but generates 9.9% of UK taxes

You forget about effieciencies created by being apart of a larger nation that create savings. Costs for health care, education, defense, policing, transportation and infrastructure would be increased. And the costs of creating and maintaining the instituitions of a state will quickly raise costs. Companies that are currently British-wide could (and likely would) withdraw from Scotland. And companies that rely on contracts from England would also likely suffer. It is not clear cut and in the short and long-term Scotland would more likely be better off remaining apart of the UK than going it alone. Scotland's situation is most akine to Quebec's. Be careful what you wish for.

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You forget about effieciencies created by being apart of a larger nation that create savings. Costs for health care, education, defense, policing, transportation and infrastructure would be increased. And the costs of creating and maintaining the instituitions of a state will quickly raise costs. Companies that are currently British-wide could (and likely would) withdraw from Scotland. And companies that rely on contracts from England would also likely suffer. It is not clear cut and in the short and long-term Scotland would more likely be better off remaining apart of the UK than going it alone. Scotland's situation is most akine to Quebec's. Be careful what you wish for.

Given that Scotland already has its own systems for healthcare, education, policing etc., quite different from those in England, I think that objection is of minimal validity. Ditto for the "institutions of a state"- the vast bulk of Scottish administration is already local, necessarily so because so much of the legislative underpinning differs from its English equivalent.

As for companies withdrawing- it's equally likely that Scotland could, like Ireland before it, attract multinationals with carefully-designed incentives not available within a wider British system; within the EU, there should also not be too many problems with English companies withdrawing work from Scottish firms. Scotland's situation (as a potentially independent member of a vast supranational federation) is nothing like Quebec's.

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There will be new government departments based in Scotland. We will have our own Treasury and Department of Foreign Affairs. But instead of paying for these services to be based in London, we will have them in Scotland, creating jobs here and boosting the Scottish economy.


And where we already run things independently – the NHS, education, local government and our legal system – things will continue to operate in the same way as they do now.



Scotland already has the best record of any part of the UK - including London - in landing jobs from inward investment. And with the additional economic powers of independence, we can do even better. In recent years, Samsung, Taqa, Avaloq, FMC Technologies, Amazon, Aker, Ineos, PetroChina, Dell, Gamesa, BNY Mellon, State Street, Hewlett-Packard and Mitsubishi Powers Systems have all announced investment in Scotland to the tune of £400 million.



With independence we can create more financial incentives to encourage businesses to invest in Scotland.


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That'd be great. Since that movie I always loved Scotties and cheered for their independence. I hate britts but not scotties, tho. Scotties are funny and they drink a lot, I have heard. The gals aren't that pretty on average, but who cares. Anyways, it'll be great to see the Scotties under their flags in Rio!

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That'd be great. Since that movie I always loved Scotties and cheered for their independence. I hate britts but not scotties, tho. Scotties are funny and they drink a lot, I have heard. The gals aren't that pretty on average, but who cares. Anyways, it'll be great to see the Scotties under their flags in Rio!

'Scotties' ARE 'Brits' until and unless they decide to become independent (which is still far from likely IMHO) so Im guessing that you mean you hate the English Brits as opposed to the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish ones? B)

Now what exactly have we English Brits done to upset you Brazilians so much? We have never been to war with each other or anything like that, have we? :blink:

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