Minister urges BOA to change 'erroneous Team GB name'

Team GB brand The branding for Team GB used at the Beijing Olympics

Northern Ireland's sports minister has said he remains hopeful the British Olympic Association (BOA) will change the name Team GB, to Team UK.

Nelson McCausland and his predecessor, Gregory Campbell, made representations for the name to be changed to reflect the involvement of NI.

The BOA said it was committed to Team GB as an effective trading name.

Mr McCausland said sports ministers from across the UK sent the BOA a letter urging them to reconsider.

"It is my understanding no final decision has been taken yet," Mr McCausland said.

"Following a meeting of the UK sports ministers the chair drafted a letter suggesting they reconsider the name.

"The BOA haven't received it yet, but when they do, they will have to consider the letter as it has the backing of all four sports ministers from across the UK, which moves it on to a new level.

'Intellectual property'

"We are a part of the UK, we are helping to fund the games and our athletes have contributed to the team, so why should NI be excluded from it by erroneous branding."

The British Olympic Association was set up in 1905 and at that stage included all of the British Isles, including the Irish Republic, as well as other parts of the British empire.

The BOA has argued that neither the term Team GB nor Team UK are strictly accurate since some members are geographically part of neither Great Britain nor the United Kingdom - for example the Isle of Man, Jersey and some UK overseas territories.

It said it had consulted with the national governing bodies of Olympic sports including athletes' representatives.

"It was decided that the creation of Team GB as an effective "trading name" fitted best with the Olympic identification of GBR," a spokesperson said.

"Team UK would not a be completely accurate description of the BOA remit."

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Mr Campbell, a former DUP sports minister, recently asked his successor Mr McCausland what steps were being taken to change the name ahead of the London Olympics next summer.

Mr McCausland said a meeting of UK sports ministers on 15 February this year had agreed to write to the BOA seeking a name change.

However, the BOA's stance appears to have dashed hopes of any change.

"Sponsors understandably feel that there is more intrinsic value in sponsoring the team and not the BOA and the Team GB mark is now an item of intellectual property which has developed over three Olympic cycles," a spokesperson added.

"The value of the brand is such that it enables the BOA to generate the funds to support the athletes at the Olympic Games."

Some Olympic sports, such as boxing, rowing and swimming, are organised on an all-Ireland basis with participants usually expected to compete for the Irish team.

Others, like athletics, gymnastics and judo are operated by a British governing body.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), which runs sport in Northern Ireland, said the UK sports cabinet recently discussed a paper tabled by Mr McCausland regarding the name and branding of Team GB.

He said it was agreed that a letter would sent on behalf of the cabinet to the BOA asking it to consider changing the name and branding "to better reflect the whole of the UK".

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