Why is it Team GB and not Team UK? Name of the British squad at Tokyo Olympics 2020 explained

Team GB athletes include the likes of Tom Daley, Lauren Williams, Bianca Walkden and Thomas Pidcock
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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are officially in full swing, and Team GB has gotten off to a great start with athletes like Tom Daley, Bianca Walkden and Tom Dean claiming medals.

But why is the UK team known as Team GB and not Team UK? This is what you need to know.

What is Team GB?

Alison Young of Team GB competes in the Women's Laser Radial class on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)Alison Young of Team GB competes in the Women's Laser Radial class on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Alison Young of Team GB competes in the Women's Laser Radial class on day six of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Team GB is the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team which is made up of athletes representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Olympic Games.

The team is selected every two years, and it was announced that the Team GB athletes participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be “making history”.

After the full Team GB squad was announced, it was revealed that it would be the largest ever delegation for an Olympic Games on foreign soil, with 376 athletes and a further 22 reserve athletes to compete across 26 sports.

“Also, for the very first time at a summer Olympic Games, Team GB will have more female than male athletes with 201 women (53.5 per cent) and 175 men (46.5 per cent) - thanks to a combination of impressive qualification performances across sports and an increased number of female events at the Games,” Team GB said in a statement.

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Why is it Team GB and not Team UK?

In the run up to the Rio Olympics in 2016, Team GB actually put out a statement explaining the name for those who are curious.

It said: “The British Olympic Association (BOC) is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the UK Overseas Territories (including the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar).

“As such, neither ‘UK’ or ‘GB’ accurately describes the BOA’s remit nor would they be representative of all the territories that fall under the BOA’s jurisdiction.

“While the BOA has always sought to give recognition to the valuable contribution made by all territories within its jurisdiction and who contribute to our Olympic success, the International Olympic Committee has always recognised the team as ‘GBR’ since its inception in 1896.”

The statement goes on to explain that the BOA, which is a privately funded organisation, has to generate its own financial support to send any team to an Olympic Games, and with that in mind, “the ‘Team GB’ trading name and brand was decided to be the most appropriate for the Olympic identification of ‘GBR’”.

Do Northern Irish athletes compete for Team GB?

Athletes from Northern Ireland have the choice of representing either Team GB or Team Ireland, if they meet the representation and selection criteria laid out by British Athletics or Athletics Ireland, respectively.

An athlete from Northern Ireland can only represent one country, so they cannot compete for both teams.

This year, 31 competitors from Northern Ireland are taking part in the games, with six involved with Team GB and the remaining 25 choosing to represent Team Ireland.

How is Team GB selected?

The responsibility of selecting Team GB athletes falls on the BOA, in conjunction with the National Governing Bodies of each individual Olympic sport.

The best athletes are then chosen to compete in 33 summer and seven winter Olympic sports.

The Olympics FAQ section explains: “Athletes must first comply with the Olympic Charter and follow the rules of the International Federation (IF) governing their sport.

“The IFs establish the rules and organise qualifying events, while the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the athlete’s country supports the athlete and is responsible for entering them for the Games.”

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