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5 Aug, 2021 13:05

EU would outperform China & US if European athletes combined Olympic wins, firebrand MEP Verhofstadt argues

EU would outperform China & US if European athletes combined Olympic wins, firebrand MEP Verhofstadt argues

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt has been bombarded with disapproving tweets after suggesting the EU could sweep the Olympics if European athletes competed for the bloc and combined their medals.

The former European Parliament Brexit chief mused on Thursday that the EU would dominate the international games if Olympians from across the bloc shared their success with Brussels.

“Fun fact: EU combined has more gold medals than US or China #TokyoOlympics I’d love to see the EU flag next to the national on athletes’ clothes. Our identity is layered - we’re proud Italians, Latvians, Germans, Slovenians... and Europeans. Our sports should reflect that !” Verhofstadt tweeted.

But his modest proposal wasn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser. 

Many were quick to point out that Verhofstadt was trying to have it both ways: by allowing EU states to compete individually but also as a bloc, the union would have a huge pool of athletes that it could use to rack up its medal count. 

“Great idea, you can be the one to tell thousands of athletes they have not qualified as there is only one EU Olympic team, not 27 national teams (the real reason the cumulative total is high),” read one snarky reply.

Pointing to the same discrepancy, numerous others questioned the veracity of Verhofstadt’s boast. 

At least one Twitter user was more than happy to brag about how post-Brexit Britain was outperforming all of the top EU member states.

Others claimed that Verhofstadt was advocating for a European superstate. The interpretation received pushback from those who noted that the MEP was acknowledging national as well as European identity.

One reply joked that maybe NATO should tally its gold medals. 

Despite the criticisms, there were still some who fully supported the Belgian politician’s idea. 

Verhofstadt is known for his zealous advocacy for EU federalism. He made headlines with his often-provocative comments about Britain’s successful referendum to leave the bloc in 2016. Recently he has taken aim at Hungary for its stance on LGBTQ issues, warning that the EU “has a dictatorship growing inside of it.”

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