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Why is the UK called Great Britain in the Olympics? What's the difference?

Why is the Olympic team named Great Britain and not the United Kingdom? Doesn’t that exclude Northern Ireland? Understand the meaning behind the name.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 20: Mallory Franklin of Team Great Britain in action during training at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Center ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam PrettyGetty Images

The Olympic team name for Great Britain and Northern Ireland is referred to in branding as 'Team GB.' However, that is not the official name. The official name is the 'Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team.'

Northern Ireland is not a part of Great Britain, which is why Northern Ireland is included separately in the team name.

The International Olympic Committee runs the Olympic Games, and it recognizes countries within Great Britain as an entity of Great Britain and has done so since 1896. Great Britain was one of the first teams to compete in the Summer Olympics in Athens along with 14 other countries.

Is Team UK a more neutral name?

This then begs the question, why is their Olympic team name referred to as “Team Britain?” Controversy has arisen as 'Team UK' is perceived as more inclusive than 'Team Britain' by some.

However “Team UK” could also stir up controversy as the teams from the smaller islands would be excluded.

Team Great Britain has existed since the beginning of the Olympics, and it’s unlikely that will change in the near future.

Watch Great Britain and the Northern Ireland Olympic Team at Tokyo 2021

The Great Britain and Northern Island team is one to watch this year, with track cycling stars like Laura Kenny, swimming stars like Adam Peaty, gymnast stars like Max Whitlock, and track stars like Laura Muir.