Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has backed Faroe Islands' efforts for Olympic recognition ©Getty Images

Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen has offered his backing to the Faroe Islands' efforts to gain Olympic recognition.

The Faroe Islands has been a self-governing region of Denmark since 1948 and rules on all issues except for foreign policy and defence.

Athletes from the Faroe Islands have had to compete under the Danish flag at Olympic Games.

The Faroese Confederation of Sports and Olympic Committee (FCSOC) hope the support of the Danish Government will act as a boost to their chances of gaining recognition.

"As Prime Minister of Denmark I express my Government's full support to the Faroes' endeavours to obtain membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," said Rasmussen.

"According to the Home Rule Act of 1948 the Faroe Islands is a self-governing community with extensive autonomy within the Danish realm and constitution.

"This autonomy includes legislative and administrative authority in a broad range of affairs among which cultural affairs, including in the field of sport.

"Therefore, I would consider it quite natural and would welcome that also the Faroe Islands obtain recognition in the IOC on an equal footing with other members, which have similar status as the Faroe Islands."

Faroe Islands' attempt to gain recognition has already received backing from the Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic National Olympic Committees.

They are recognised by eight Olympic International Federations, including FIFA, as well as the International Paralympic Committee, but have made no progress regarding IOC recognition since initial overtures in the 1980s.

This means that athletes from the Faroe Islands such as swimmer Pál Joensen can only compete at the Olympics as part of the Danish team.

Faroe Islands are hoping to convince the IOC to allow them to compete under their own flag at the Olympic Games ©Getty Images
Faroe Islands are hoping to convince the IOC to allow them to compete under their own flag at the Olympic Games ©Getty Images

Kosovo and South Sudan are the most recent countries to have been granted Olympic recognition, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Unlike Faroe Islands, though, they are considered fully independent countries by the United Nations or, in Kosovo's case, by over 100 of its members.

Faroe Islands' case is made more difficult by an Olympic Charter change in 1996 which ruled that NOC recognition can "only be granted after recognition as an independent state by the international community".

Jon Hestoy, FCSOC vice-president, stated the support of the Danish Government was a welcome boost, as they seek to convince the IOC to provide them with membership.

"It is great to have the support of the Danish Prime Minister in our campaign to get Olympic recognition and its important to say that our arguments go beyond sport," he said.

"For example, we are geographically much closer to Scotland, Iceland and Norway than to Denmark.

"We have our own language and control all key domestic matters including education, tax, trade and fisheries.

"We also have our own Parliament, flag and passport and are not part of the Schengen Area, unlike Denmark.

"We are also recognised by international organisations such as UNESCO and the International Maritime Organisation, among others."