Just happened to watch athletics competition in Genk (Limburg, Belgium). In 3000m steeple race the winner became Mustafa Mohammed from Sweden! He ran out the second best time in Europe this season, thus having good prospects prior World Championships in Osaka. But its not track & field races I want to speak in this blog entry, but the nationality question in small countries (Latvia and Estonia) sports competitions. Since the ideological competition between the capitalist free world and the socialist "people's democracies" ended in the late 1980's, once exclusive European national teams have started mixing in representatives from other cultures. French football team or Surya Bonalie (figure skating) is probably best example here, but in the same manner for quite many years Netherlands representatives have had their athletes from former colonies. In today's Europe there are such prominent examples as Wilson Kipketer from Denmark, A. Obikwelu from Portugal, Samuel Kirwa from Finland, and now also Mustafa Mohammed from Sweden.
Central European states still have many local representatives who are "hungry" and find that sports competition is a way for upward mobility. Jamaica born star sprinter Marlene Ottey and Nigerian born Emmanuel Olisadebe are rather exclusive, because they represent Slovenia and Poland due to familial reasons. However, they are unique because they were the first ones, but with years passing buy and economy improving, probably there will be more Asian and African representatives also in Central and East European teams? It is a probability question, and for home grown Asian and African representatives to appear in Latvian or Slovak jerseys the most important question is the improvement of economic situation. Growth of the economy will demand more immigrant labour, and also enable the national sports authorities to look for best talent in Africa and Asia.
For Mustafa, Xanxi or Karim to represent team Latvija are still some years to come. Nevertheless, to prepare for such day coming there is still question of xenophobia on agenda. It is not good news that in the Baltic States routine beatings by skin - head gangs or punks are not diminishing, with no Asian or African communities actualy living here (which shows how indoctrinated and brainwashed by internet propaganda the home grown punks are)! Multiculturalism can definitely go out of hands when government does not control it, and riots in Clichy sur Bois in Paris suburbian area are very good example of that. In the meantime number of Somali, Bosniak and Iraqi refugees is scrupulously monitored in Finland, and does not cause widespread domestic ruptures for example.
Actually for Estonian and Latvian common folks the first issue should be to digest that societies are multicultural already due to the legacy that the Soviet period. Just to name Latvian football players Igors Stepanovs and Aleksandrs Starkovs, ice hockey star Sergejs Žoltoks, star runner Jeļena Prokopčuka, or Athens olympic medalists Vadims Vasiļevskis and Igors Vihrovs, and Estonian footballers Sergei Terehhov or Andrei Stepanov, and most of the Estonian ice-hockey team, and it becomes clear that Eesti and Latvija jerseys are worn by the best athletes. Their individual qualities are more important than their collective belonging. To accept this reality in full diversity Latvian and Estonian multicultural teams could be used in education campaigns. Education campaigns are needed to avoid the hypocricy in the Latvian language, when even commentators themselves very often mix such terms like latvijas (team latvia) and latviešu (team representing ehnic latvians). With such education campaigns population would become more tolerant, there should be less xenophobia, and thus we should see Estonian Xianxi or Latvian Mohammed within a decade. But for this to happen economies must turn the wheels of countries forward. Estonian economy grows pretty well, and lets hope Latvia could emulate its Northern neighbour more (especially where good practice of governance is concerned), even if it is hard to accept it on the official level:)