You can now read 10 articles each month for free on BostonGlobe.com.

The Boston Globe

Editorials

editorial

Marathoner deserves to run under South Sudan’s flag

 The IOC said Guor Marial could compete under the Olympic flag.

REUTERS

The IOC said Guor Marial could compete under the Olympic flag.

Continue reading below

Guor Marial, a marathon runner from South Sudan, has earned the right to compete in the London Olympics. Marial qualified for the games, which open today, when he finished a marathon in October in slightly less than 2 hours and 13 minutes. But his status was in doubt because South Sudan, which gained independence only last year, isn’t sending an official delegation to London.

Marial, who went to college and trains in the United States, couldn’t run as an American because he is not a US citizen. The International Olympic Committee’s initial suggestion that Marial compete for the team from Sudan — from which South Sudan just broke away after decades of civil war — made no sense. Last week, the committee said Marial could compete under the Olympic flag, just like athletes from East Timor did in Sydney in 2000. Thanks to that decision, Marial will be able to provide a lift to a country long locked in strife.

Even better, though, would be to let Marial compete as a South Sudanese athlete, even though his country lacks a national Olympic committee. For obvious reasons, putting together such a body hasn’t been at the top of South Sudan’s to-do list, but allowing Marial to carry the South Sudanese flag would be a source of pride for a struggling new country.

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than $1 a week