Brazilian Olympic champ threatens to switch nationalities
London Olympic gymnastics champ Arthur Zanetti of Brazil is threatening to switch nationalities ahead of his upcoming hometown Games in Rio unless the nation’s Olympic Committee is willing to invest in his sport going forward.
“When I won the gold medal in London everybody said my life was going to change, but it hasn’t changed at all,” Zanetti told TV Globo Sunday.
Zanetti won his gold in the rings competition last summer over defending champion Chen Yibing of China. The Brazilian star hopes to win on his home soil in 2016, but promises of funding have gone unfulfilled. Now he’s getting a little antsy.
“I have already begun thinking about competing for another country if the opportunity arises,” Zanetti, who’s forced to share the gym with 300 other athletes, added. “I would do it with a broken heart, because I am Brazilian and I like to be Brazilian. But if another country offered me what I needed, I would go.”
Zanetti would have to act quickly because IOC rules dictate that an athlete much switch nationalities three years ahead of the Games in order to compete for the new country. World No. 1 taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook switched from Great Britain to Isle of Man after being left off last summer’s team.