London - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will allow a marathon runner born in what is now South Sudan to compete under the Olympic flag at the London Games.
The IOC executive board agreed on Saturday to allow US-based Guor Marial to take part as an independent athlete.
The IOC says Marial has no passport and is not represented by a national Olympic committee. South Sudan gained independence last year after breaking away from Sudan. It doesn't yet have a recognised Olympic body.
Marial moved to the United States as a refugee when he was a child. He qualified for the Olympics by running a marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 32 seconds in 2011. He has improved on that time since.
IOC spokesperson Mark Adams says it is the first case of its kind at the Olympics.
Three more competitors are in the same boat as Marial. The Dutch Antilles trio of sprinter Churandy Martina, Philip Elhage (shooting) and Rodion Davelaar (swimming) also got the IOC nod.
Located in the Caribbean, the Dutch Antilles were independent territories of the Netherlands until 2010 and had their own Olympic Committee and team.
The islands are now part of the Netherlands as special municipalities and have no NOC since 2011. Their athletes will compete within the Dutch team in the future.
Martina was disqualified at the 2008 Games in Beijing after originally finishing second in the 200 metres behind Jamaican Usain Bolt.
Athletes from former Yugoslavia competed under the Olympic flag 1992 in Barcelona, and so did athletes from East Timor at the 2000 Games in Sydney.