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Why is Switzerland SUI at the Olympics?

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People had been Googling “What country is SUI?” during Wednesday’s beach volleyball semifinal.

Olympics fans may be a bit confused as to the identity of the country that is designated SUI. At least a lot of Americans were Googling it Wednesday night as the American women’s beach volleyball team of April Ross and Alix Klineman were playing SUI in the semifinals.

SUI is the country designation for Switzerland, which may not seem all that intuitive since most would think it would be SWI.

The reason has to do with the French, or specifically, the French language. The International Olympic Committee — which, coincidentally, is based in Switzerland — uses French and English as its official languages.

According to Fansided, the French translation of the Swiss Federation is Fédération Suisse. So, SUI is short for Suisse. This can also be seen in the track and field uniforms worn by the Swiss. They say “Suisse.”

The French connection also makes sense because during the opening ceremony, the nations are introduced in three languages — English, French and the host country’s language. But they come out in order of the host nation’s alphabet.

RELATED: Why is Russia called ROC at the Tokyo Olympics?

But it’s not just an Olympics thing. A quick look at other sporting organization websites — such as the Union of European Football Associations — show that they use SUI as well.

It’s not clear why every country’s French translation is not used during the Olympics. United States of America in French is les États-Unis d’Amérique. So going by the logic mentioned above, you might think the designation would be EUA. But it’s USA, just like everywhere else.

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There are plenty of countries at the Olympics that don’t go based on the first three letters of their country’s name. Just a few of these include:

  • Spain = ESP (Other international organizations also use this designation for Spain)
  • Iran = IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Ivory Coast = CIV (Côte d’Ivoire)

This should not be confused with why the athletes from Russia are designated ROC at the Tokyo Olympics. ROC stands for Russia Olympic Committee. Russia is not allowed to be officially represented due to its suspension over widespread doping. The Russian athletes will not see their country’s flag or hear their country’s anthem at the Tokyo Games or at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022.

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