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Czechia or Czech Republic: Which is right at the 2022 Beijing Olympics

The Czechs are going through a name change, and both are technically correct, but we’re going with Czechia and here’s why.

An athlete from the Czech Republic takes part in a biathlon practice session at the National Biathlon Centre in Zhangjiakou on February 2, 2022, ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

There’s a team from the former Czechoslovakia participating in the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but what should we call them?

Due to general American laziness and intractability, you’ll probably hear NBC’s coverage of the Games use “Czech Republic” mostly. If we can’t adopt the metric system, we likely can’t adopt the name change of a country we don’t think of too often either.

Also it would ruin this fantastic shirt a former Czech volleyball player at my alma mater used to wear, and we love all former Iron Curtain-Ice Cube mashups.

But the country itself has asked other nations to the term “Czechia” for a few reasons.

One is demonymic accuracy, as Czech is more an adjective for the majority of citizens than a noun of a place. The other is it just makes more sense, as explained by a terrific local news site in Central Europe:

The main difference is in what situations and how these two types of country names should be properly used. We are convinced that Czechia should follow the established international norm of how other countries with short names use them. In short, the use of the formal name (the Czech Republic) should be limited to international treaties and the diplomatic protocol.

In all other situations, including the everyday speech, media, sports, schools, academia, administration, written documents etc., Czechia should be used. It’s not an accident that it is mainly internationally unrecognized and fictitious states or dictatorial regimes that use exclusively formal names in an attempt to increase their legitimacy. Recently, this has included the People’s Republic of Donetsk, the Republic of Artsakh, the Republic of Srpska, the Republic of Logone and, of course, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Every time Les Bleus score a goal in the World Cup, we don’t say “Goal, The French Republic.” But when Jaromir Jagr did that for years for his national hockey team, most English-speaking people were doing the equivalent.

The government asked people to make the change in 2013, though it’s been a bit of rough going so far. There’s even a civic initiative asking people to make the switch.

The main arguments of the civic initiative consist in geographical, etymological, linguistic and historical evidence of correctness and necessity in the common usage of the name Czechia, as a standard equivalent to the conventional name of the country.

So we’ll be here to assist in their efforts throughout these games. For us here at DK Nation we’ll use Czechia, and if you’re with your friends at a bar watching curling maybe you tell them as well. The more you know...