Posted on August 13, 2004

Dutch Olympians Stumble At Integration Hurdle

Expatica, Aug. 12

AMSTERDAM — Foreign-born athletes who are to represent the Netherlands in the Olympic Games starting on Friday do not appear to know a great deal about their adoptive country, it was reported Thursday.

New immigrants hoping to come to live in the Netherlands will have to undergo an integration test to ensure they are familiar with Dutch culture and society, the government has said.

And immigration to the Netherlands has fallen sharply since the government introduced more restrictive entry conditions in 2001.

When newspaper Algemeen Dagblad put a similar sort of test to the six foreign-born athletes in the Dutch team, none could name Rembrandt van Rijn’s most famous painting (The Night Watch) and only three knew the date for Sinterklaas (5 December).

They faired much better when asked the name of the Queen (Beatrix) and the title of the national anthem (Het Wilhelmus). All gave the correct answers.

But only half of the group knew the name of the Dutch Prime Minister (Jan Peter Balkenende). His profile is currently higher than normal as the Netherlands took over the six-month presidency of the EU at the beginning of July.

The three who knew Balkenende’s name managed to pass the test, the others did not.

The newspaper noted China and Cuba are the only two countries competing in the Athens Games with teams consisting totally of native-born athletes.