An example of a direct sports import

This is Felix Wetzel who won a gold medal for Malta in table tennis. Felix is from Germany, has no connection with Malta and doesn’t live in Malta, and was imported specifically for the Games of the small states of Europe.

This is not an attack on Felix Wetzel, of course. I’m using him as an example because I was criticised that some of the athletes who were imported had a connection with Malta, but clearly, some of them don’t.

Call me old-fashioned, but I never thought that my country could be represented in international sports events by direct imports. I would have imagined that foreigners competing under Malta’s flag would have been naturalised Maltese citizens either by living in Malta or by marriage. And I always thought that one of the points of these international games is to show national soft power by proving to the world that your nation can build strong and winning athletes. Going to the market and buying athletes for international competitions is sad and ruins the point of these games.

International sports events have always been events that project the clout and power of a nation. By winning medals with direct imports there is no glory, only the admission that your country is a failed state.


  1. As of today no more xenophobia in Malta ………..Foreigners in Malta are a key factor, be it sports or the national workforce.

    • These are not “foreigners in Malta”… this is merely buying the services of international sportmen to compete on your behalf on one occasion. Basically tahxi.

  2. The problem is that buying foreigners is done at the expense of developing local talent. (Apart from if you or your coach are not among the ‘liked’, you won’t get chosen anyway). We also have the same problem in football with premier clubs buying ageing third rate foreign players, paying them far more than locals, and playing them extensively to the detriment of locals to ‘get money’s worth’. Clubs then lament that they can’t play talented younger locals because ‘they don’t have experience’. The wastage of local talented players between the ages of 17 to 23 is heartbreaking.

  3. Well there might be a silver lining in such blatant “importation” of athletes.
    Maybe we can now assign a Maltese Passport to Jacinda Ardern – we desperately need a prime minister of gold medal calibre in integrity and more!

  4. Quite clearly the only focus of the Olympic committee in these games was to win as many medals as possible. By hook or by crook. They succeeded but it looks like the rules were bent somewhat. That importing foreigners was done before is no excuse. And notice how they used the example of the tennis player Petocic to cover up for the non genuine cases.

    And then what about the inclusion of the optimist class in sailing. This isn’t even an Olympic class. Is this the first time this was included? Why include this junior class and then not the junior classes in other sports? With most of the fleet being Maltese this increased the chances of more medals.

    Then there was the admission that there was millions of investment to send the lucky few to clinics abroad to train. Again the benefit of this is the short term goal of these winning medals. How about investing those millions in nurturing sports (beyond football) so that more and more youth can participate and excel. It’s by increasing the talent pool that there can be more competition locally.

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  1. This is why you should not cheat or distort international sporting events – Mark Camilleri

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