Olympic joy reopens citizen debate in Italy

Rome: Italy’s interior minister has called for a reform of draconian citizenship laws after the success of a multicultural roster of athletes at the Olympics.

Children born in Italy to foreign parents are not considered citizens and can only apply after their 18th birthday.

About 800,000 children who speak Italian, go to Italian school and consider themselves Italian have to go through a complicated bureaucratic process to become citizens.

Of the Italian athletes who competed in Tokyo, 46 were foreign-born. Lamont Marcell Jacobs, who won gold in the 100 metres on the track, was born in Texas to an American father and an Italian mother.

US-born Lamont Marcell Jacobs celebrates his success at the Tokyo Olympics.Credit:Getty Images

Eseosa Desalu, who won gold with Jacobs in the 4x100m relay, was born in Italy to Nigerian parents. Great Nnachi, a 17-year-old pole vaulter, also born in Italy to Nigerian parents, has won titles and broken records but does not have citizenship and so cannot compete in international competitions for Italy.

Luciana Lamorgese, the interior minister, said she favoured changing the citizenship laws. “It is important to think about social inclusion for these kids. They already consider themselves Italian,” she told La Stampa newspaper.

However, reform could prove difficult given the delicate balance of the coalition government.

The Telegraph, London

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