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Approved Countries

Country Club

List of Countries

Apr 24, 2024


This page includes a list of ALL countries that comply with CC rules and are therefore recognized by the CC. Country names followed by an asterisk (*) do not offer a marathon.

After years of experience and discussions about “What is a Country”, the Country Club has concluded that it is difficult to reach a consensus on a “List of Countries”! However, after twenty years of discussion and arguments among the pioneers of our Sport the answer to this question evolved into a set of three basic criteria and rules as explained below:


What is a Country?

This question has been asked, discussed and argued since the early days of the Sport of Country Marathons!

By the time the Country Club was formed in 2007, the pioneers of our sport had managed to agree on a number of criteria to determine compliance for the Country Club. When the book ‘Global Runner’ was published in 2015, the criteria had been further simplified into a set of basic and simple rules.

In the past five years with the surprising growth of our Sport and the number of countries offering marathons, there have been once again numerous queries about which countries comply with CC rules. The CC published a comprehensive list of qualifying countries on our website which required extensive research for only a few countries. During this research the criteria evolved into a simple and easy set of rules as follows.

A ‘country’ is recognized as a country by the Country Club if it complies with any of the following three criteria/rules:

  1. It is a member of the IOC and can compete in the Olympics

  2. It is a member of FIFA and can compete in the World Cup

  3. It is a member of the British Commonwealth and can compete in the Commonwealth Games

However, it has been determined through experience that even with these simple rules, there is still disagreement and dispute. Thus, it is sometimes necessary to ‘peel back the layers’ and explore further detail in each of these criteria.

  1. The IOC, formed in 1894, is the oldest major International Sports Federation and currently has 206 members. A formal list of members is published and only members are allowed to compete in the Olympics. A non-member country can compete in the Olympics only under the IOC flag!

  2. FIFA was formed in 1904 and is the largest International Sports Federation with 211 members listed on their ‘full members’ list. Only full members are allowed to compete for the World Cup. FIFA also has several ‘sub conferences’ and ‘associate members’ around the world to promote the sport throughout the world. However, these members can compete in regional competitions only and are not included in the FIFA World Rankings and cannot compete for the World Cup!

  3. The Commonwealth Games were formed in 1930 and currently have 73 members. Some members are former Commonwealth countries (Canada/Australia/India) that are independent and have no political/economic ties to Great Britain but still retain their Commonwealth status. Others are small, independent countries and many are Commonwealth territories that still have political and economic ties to Great Britain. Members of this major International Sports competition are recognized as countries by the Country Club even though some may not comply with Category 1 or 2.


To determine if a country complies with these criteria the Country Club looks at the Membership Lists of each Sports Federation. Sometimes it is necessary to research not only if – but when a country was recognized as a member of a specific Federation?

These criteria will prove compliance with 99% of the countries in the world. However, there are still cases where a ‘country’ does not comply with any of the above three criteria and such a case must be considered on a case-by-case basis to see if an ‘exception’ should be granted.


Antarctica and Vatican City were granted such exceptions. Greenland was granted an exception by default. When Greenland was initially accepted by the Country Club it was considered an ‘Associate Member’ by FIFA with full membership benefits and allowed to compete for the World Cup. A few years later, FIFA revoked the ‘full’ membership benefits because of a dispute and Greenland can no longer compete for the World Cup. Since it had already been approved by the Country Club its status was grandfathered by an exception.


Exceptions are a slippery and dangerous path that should be avoided whenever possible. Once exceptions are granted, people will request/demand more exceptions!


The Country Club is a ‘Sports’ Club and believes that rules should be based on and relevant to Sports. That is why we follow rules developed by the three major International Sports Federations! They have existed for more than 100 years and have spent considerable resources/time/money investigating and establishing rules for their membership. Why mess with success? We are proud to follow their guidelines and rules. We follow all three Sports Federations in order to recognize as many countries as possible so that our members have the largest list of ‘compliant’ countries to complete.


Although every club has the right make their own rules, the Country Club believes that rules to determine a ‘country’ in a ‘Sports’ Club should NOT be based on political, economic or other non-sports criteria and should not be based on a List of ‘ISO Country Codes’ that qualifies every speck of land on the planet as a country with no relevance to Sports!

The List of Approved Countries allows members to sort the data as needed or search for specific data. To return to the initial list just refresh the page by clicking on the 'refresh' symbol or the 'f5' key.

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