Media, fans, and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge have all claimed a rising trend over the past two decades of foreign-born athletes competing at the Olympics, framing such participation as “mercenary” in nature. Previous studies have disputed popular perceptions that the Summer Olympics have seen an increased rate of foreign-born participation. Utilizing publicly available birthplace data to build a database of foreign-born representatives at the Winter Olympics between 1924 and 2018, this study fills a gap in the extant literature on sport and national identity as it pertains to elite winter sports. Critiquing the “mercenary” label in the context of international sport, this study also offers a new lens for considering the extent to which self-interest guides the decisions of foreign-born athletes and the states that elect to incorporate them onto national teams.

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