FINA has approved the addition of a new member federation, though they remain at a total of 202 members.
Curacao will replace the Netherlands Antilles in the FINA lineup.
This is the latest in a political separation that resulted from a public referendum in 2005, where residents voted for separate status from the Netherlands Antilles, despite geographical proximity, much as we see in Aruba. The Netherlands Antilles were officially dissolved on October 10th, 2010, and Curacao became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This basically means that the Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for Curacao’s defense and foreign policy, but will self-determine most domestic policies.
This move by FINA to derecognize the Netherlands Antilles and recognize Curacao is part of the unwinding process that included the IOC not allowing athletes to represent the Netherlands Antilles at the London 2012 Games. At those games, athletes from the Netherlands Antilles competed under the Olympic flag. The Netherland Antilles Olympic Committee had operated under the plan that they would remain united for Olympic purposes, but the IOC disagreed.
Going forward, neither Curacao nor its fellow orphaned Sint Maarten will be allowed to organize its own Olympic committee, as the IOC will only recognize members that are sovereign countries. Thus, under current plans, Curacao athletes will have to choose to compete either for Aruba or the Netherlands in the future.
This leaves Curacao in a position of competing under one flag at World Championship and regional events, and another flag at the Olympics, much like we see in the relationship with the Faroe Islands and Denmark.
Curacao is home to a population of 142,180 as of the 2010 census, and athletically is best known for its baseball program that frequently sends teams to the Little League World Series. The country lies just off the northern coast of South America.
The other islands are Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten. Sint Maarten holds similar status as Curacao, though with about one-third of the population, while the other three are now special municipalities of the Netherlands.