02:56 GMT +316 January 2019
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    Germany's Aileen Frisch after a race at the Luge World Cup in Sochi. File photo

    S Korea Gives Citizenship to Foreign Athletes Ahead of Winter Olympics

    © Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich
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    South Korea is trying to bolster its chances in the next Winter Olympics through granting citizenship to a number of foreign athletes from Germany, Canada, the US and Russia.

    German-born 24-year-old luge racer Aileen Frisch will represent South Korea at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, officials at the Ministry of Justice said Thursday, according to the Korea Times report.

    The report says she is set to acquire Korean citizenship if she passes a ministry interview planned this month. According to the ministry, Frisch is allowed to have dual citizenship under the Special Naturalization Law.

    Once she acquires S Korean citizenship, she is expected to represent S Korea in the World Cup and international competitions starting January, the official is cited as saying.

    Frisch won gold medals at the junior world and junior European championships but retired from luge racing after she failed to be included in the senior German squad for the 2015/16 season. Then she was approached by the Korea Luge Federation to race for S Korea.

    Germany is a luge powerhouse, winning every gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

    Prior to the country's first-ever Winter Olympics, recently S Korea has been naturalizing promising athletes from oversees.

    Last April, two Russia-born biathlon athletes Aleksandr Starodubets and Anna Frolina, were given S Korean citizenship following Canadians Matt Dalton and Eric Regan who obtained S Korean citizenship last March.

    Russian ice dancer Kirill Minov and American Alexander Gamelin are also taking legal procedures to acquire S Korean citizenship.

    Russian biathletes Timofey Lapshin and Catherine Avvakumova also said they were interested in getting S Korean citizenship, Yonhap news agency reported earlier this moths.

    Naturalization of even those sportsmen who have no roots in the country giving them citizenship is quite common and usually done for career and financial motives.

    In August 2011 South Korea-born short track skater Victor Ahn (Ahn Hyun-soo) was given Russian citizenship and moved to Russia in order to take part in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics where he won one gold and one bronze medal.

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    Tags:
    Olympic games, athletes, citizenship, sport, 2018 Winter Olympics, Germany, Canada, Russia, South Korea
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