March 5, 2010
Q. I am from China and an avid sports fan. This bleak February month is lighted by the Winter Olympics hosted by Vancouver. I watch the many sportswomen and men taking part to the Olympics, many from China and I was wondering how do they get approved to come to Canada and participate in the winter games? Do they need to apply for work permits previous to coming to Canada?
A. Actually, we are receiving many questions regarding the Winter Olympics so this week and next I will address some of the questions. By regulation, professional and amateur teams and individuals are allowed to enter Canada and compete without a work permit. The same is true for foreign athletes that are members of Canadian amateur teams. This covers coaches and trainers, racing car drivers, amateur athletes playing for Canadian teams as well as individuals attending professional team tryouts; so Olympic athletes and coaches are deemed to be amateurs so they are exempt. However, if the person is a professional or semi-professional athlete or coach traveling to Canada to play, train for or coach a professional Canadian team, they require a work permit although they might not be required to obtain a Labour Market Opinion(LMO).LMOs basically address and protect Canadian work force interests before hiring a foreign national. So although Olympic athletes and coaches do not require a work permit they are all screened for security interests. More on the Olympics next week. Thank you for your question.