Olympic Figure Skating and Home Country Citizenship/Training

I’m pretty sure this question came up elsewhere only to lead into a “gotcha” style anti-immigration rant by the questioner, but it got me curious about the nuts and bolts.

Much was made (on US TV, anyway) of the Turkish women’s figure skater who lives and trains in Canada.

How does that work? As I understand it, she must retain Turkish citizenship to compete for Turkey. To be able to train full-time in Canada, would it have to be a dual citizenship? I don’t quite grasp how visas work - is that it? I have the vague memory of hearing years and years ago that athletes who handled their training this way had to spend a certain amout of time per year in their home country, at least in the amatuer skaing world, but that could be different nowadays or I’m remembering wrong.

Different countries have different rules on visas and citizenship status, so I don’t know if you’re going to find one concrete answer here.

A lot of professional atheletes do this kind of thing. For example, European tennis players, wherever they were born, train mainly in Spain because of the warm weather. Others will come to the southern U.S. (Erstwhile Russian Maria Sharapova, 22, has lived in the U.S. since she was six.) The bottom line is the athletes will go wherever the coaches and the best facilities are.

Just for background, the skater’s name is Tugba Karademir, and she has dual citizenship in Turkey and Canada. Her family moved to Canada in 1996, when she was about 11 years old, because there was only one skating rink in Turkey and they wanted her to be able to get better training. So it looks like she’s lived in Canada a little longer than she lived in Turkey. If I had to guess, I’d say she does not need to do anything to maintain her Turkish citizenship.

Thanks! Most of that is kind of what I was assuming, but wasn’t 100% sure.

How about Allison Reed skating for the country of Georgia. Lives in Kalamazoo, MI, and IIRC, they said she’s never even SET FOOT in the country of Georgia.

I think she was the one who was found by the male partner over the Internet, and in order to qualify the President(?) of Georgia pushed her citizenship paperwork through. Maybe in that case since one partner was from the area it was OK, but I see problems with athletes in the future possibly taking bids on which small country they can represent for.

That was one thing I did find while I was looking to answer my original question - in pairs and ice dance, only one partner has to hold a passport from the country they’re skating for. I’ll see if I can find that site again.

Aha - found it.