If you watched Olympic track and field on Monday, you might have seen Ruth Jebet of Bahrain win the country's first-ever Olympic gold medal, in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase.
The NBCSN television announcer described the 19-year-old as running for Bahrain for "financial reasons," because she was born and raised in Kenya, and still lives and trains there. Jebet is just one example of tiny Middle Eastern nations paying big bucks to import top-notch African talent.
Bahrain's Olympic track and field team is composed primarily of runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, along with more from Jamaica, Morocco and Nigeria. The team includes almost no runners born in Bahrain.
Eunice Kirwa won a silver medal in Sunday's women's marathon. She, too, was born in Kenya, but transferred her eligibility to Bahrain. Including past Olympics, every medal ever won by Bahrain in the Olympics was by individuals born in Africa.
This isn't unique to Bahrain, as nearby countries Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Turkey have all been known in the past decade to pay to import elite athletes.The International Association of Athletics Federations records when athletes change their national allegiances for international competition, and many of those athletes go on to run in the Olympics.