U.S. President pushes IOC to allow Indigenous nation to participate in LA28 Summer Olympics

President Biden recently spoke at the White House Tribal Nations Summit in support of the Haudenosaunee Nationals

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The sport of lacrosse will be making its third appearance in the Olympic Games in LA28, but the third best nation in the world may not have an opportunity to compete for a gold medal.

U.S. President Joe Biden wants the Indigenous nation which invented the game to play in LA28 under their own flag. To that end, he has requested the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow the Haudenosaunee Nationals to be their own team in 2028.

The Haudenosaunee was formerly known as the Iroquois. They are a collection of six Indigenous nations whose territory convers parts of New York in the U.S. and regions of Canada. They have competed as their own team at a number of international events over the past three decades.

“We’re hopeful the IOC will see it our way,” said White House senior adviser and director of intergovernmental affairs Tom Perez to the Associated Press. “If we’re successful, it won’t be simply the flag of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy marching in the Olympics, it will be the flag of Indigenous people across the world.”

Back in October the IOC repeated their stance about teams having to compete under the flag of an established Olympic Committee. That means the U.S. and Canadian Olympic Committees would have to find a way to include Indigenous athletes which could be difficult.

Haudenosaunne players face Canada with flag of the Haudenosaunne Confederacy in the background. Photo Credit: The World Games 2022
Haudenosaunne players face Canada with flag of the Haudenosaunne Confederacy in the background. Photo Credit: The World Games 2022

The Haudenosaunee Nationals currently rank third in the world in lacrosse, behind the U.S. and Canada, and they just want to same opportunity as everyone else in LA28.

“The ultimate goal is for the Haudenosaunee to win a gold medal,” said Leo Nolan, the executive director of the Haudenosaunee Nationals, while acknowledging the situation is very difficult at the moment.

World Lacrosse, the sport’s international federation, is all for the Haudenosaunee Nationals competing in Los Angeles.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the IOC, LA28 and Olympic Committees of the U.S. and Canada to explore potential pathways for the Haudenosaunee to participate in the Olympics while respecting the Olympic Games framework,” they said in a statement.

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