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LONDON: South Sudan-born marathon runner Guor Marial will be able to compete at the London Olympics after all after the International Olympic Committee on Saturday granted him permission to run under the Olympic flag.


The 28-year-old — who was born in what was then Sudan but who fled to the United States after 28 members of his family were killed by the Sudanese government — does not have a passport although he does have a green card allowing him to stay in America.


However, with South Sudan not yet having a National Olympic Committee, Marial effectively found himself stateless and unable to compete at the Olympics even though he has run the qualifying time required by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).


The IOC Executive Board’s decision will see him march under the IOC flag at the opening ceremony next Friday along with three athletes from what was the Netherlands Antilles but who refuse to run for the Netherlands since their former country ceased to officially exist in 2010.


“The EB approved a request to allow marathon runner Guor Marial to compete at London 2012 as an Independent Olympic Athlete (IOA) under the Olympic flag,” read an IOC statement following the EB decision.


“Marial was born in what is now South Sudan, which does not currently have a recognised National Olympic Committee.


“The athlete, who does not hold a passport from any country, is a permanent resident (refugee status green card) of the United States but not a citizen.


“As such he is unable to compete for the United States, South Sudan or Sudan. Marial qualified for the Games with an A Standard time on 2 October 2011.”


Marial’s case has been helped by the support of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire — where he went to school before going to University in Iowa — and will ensure that despite not having a passport he can travel to and back from the Games.