Image of Lintao Zhang / Getty
The Beijing Winter Olympics Well underway, with some of the best athletes in the world competing in sports as diverse as figure skating, curling, ice hockey and figure skating. Like the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, these take place in the shadow of COVID-19, with all athletes required to be tested regularly with some (as Team America’s figure skating candidate Vincent Zhou) tested positive and missed an opportunity for gold.
But there is one question that often crosses everyone’s mind when watching the Olympics: why Team GB (United Kingdom) and not Team United Kingdom (United Kingdom)? The difference between Team GB and Team England is actually quite a complicated one, to the point that even many Britons don’t know the real answer. So here’s how it works.
What is the difference between Great Britain and Great Britain?
First, it is necessary to clearly define what ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘United Kingdom’ are. Great Britain is the name of the island that includes the countries of England, Wales and Scotland. The United Kingdom is a unified parliamentary democracy comprising the countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (which is part of the island of Ireland).
However, Team GB can select athletes not only from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but also ‘Depending Kingdoms’ such as the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and British Overseas Territories such as Falkland and Gibraltar Islands.
That doesn’t clarify the matter exactly, since based on that you’d expect the real reasonable name to be ‘Team UK’.
The real reason for the name is not geography but an exercise in branding. The British Olympic team had a lousy performance in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the organization was overhauled in the following years. Part of this is the push to create a united front that the British public can stand behind, with official statement of the organization about the problem:
“There is only one Olympic team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Team GB. There is not an Olympic swimming team or an Olympic rowing team. Individual sports compete to become Team GB, Olympic Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ”
The last part is very important: the official name is “THim Olympic Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland“And Group GB is just for marketing.
But upon rebranding, Team GB was a resounding success, despite receiving a lot of criticism for its imprecision. For example, Northern Irish politicians are not happy with the name reduction, with Their Sports Minister said in 2008 that the GB Group “excludes and actually alienates the people of Northern Ireland”.
With Brexit threatening the stability of UK unity, issues like this are a political one and in August 2021 it was reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seriously considering the adoption of the “United Kingdom”, with The Times of London reports a high-level government source speak:
“Team UK will be much more inclusive than Team GB and will better reflect our commitment to the Union, including Northern Ireland.”
It has also been shown that all the controversy over names and terminology has absolutely no effect on the team’s medal count. In a fierce article, Peep Show star David Mitchell described the money spent on rebranding and arguing as “capitalism’s ultimate triumph” and said:
“When public money is spent like this, as whenever a government department changes from department of something to department for something, it is just anger without reason. The branding for our Olympic team.
This debate will probably rattle for a while, but as you can see, the answer isn’t quite as simple as you might initially imagine. Either way, the Beijing Winter Olympics have been open for four days and Team GB has yet to score a single medal, perhaps proving that a name is really just a name.
https://wegotthiscovered.com/sports/why-is-team-gb-not-team-uk-in-the-olympics/ Why is the GB team not the UK team in the Olympics?