After its success at the Tokyo Olympics, Italy debates access to nationality for foreigners

The enthusiasm aroused in Italy by the record medals at the Tokyo Games, due in part to its athletes of foreign origin, has rekindled the debate on the conditions of access to nationality, complicated by the bureaucratic rules in force.

The debate was started by the head of the Italian Olympic Committee himself, Giovanni Malago, who complained about the administrative nightmare faced by athletes who want to compete under the Italian flag but do not yet have official Italian nationality.

In Italy, the acquisition of nationality is based on the right to blood rather than the right to land.

Children born in Italy to foreign parents must wait until they are 18 to apply for citizenship, an obstacle course that can last up to four years, described as “Dantesque” by Giovanni Malago.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese recognized the validity of these criticisms, enraging Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, who asked her to focus on border control against migrants instead of defending the right to land.

These young people who are waiting for nationality, and not only athletes, “should feel like an integral part of our society,” said Luciana Lamorgese in the newspaper La Stampa this Tuesday, advocating for “social inclusion.”

100m winner Lamont Marcell Jacobs was able to obtain nationality thanks to his Italian mother, but the 17-year-old pole vault champion Greta Nnachi, of Nigerian parents in Turin, was unable to gain recognition. State, because it is not Italian in the eyes of the law and as such cannot compete with the Italian colors.

According to the national statistics agency Istat, around 800,000 minors in Italy would obtain Italian citizenship if the right to land were adopted, as well as 60,000 newborns each year.

Furthermore, according to the Italian Olympic Committee, 46 of the Italian athletes who competed in Tokyo were born abroad.

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