A number of Canadian athletes, who have Irish ancestry, have told the Olympic Council of Ireland they would like to compete on the country’s behalf at the next Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014.

Jack McGouran, spokesman for the Olympic Committee, said the popularity of the Irish team in Vancouver’s Olympic Village is such that many Canadians have shown interest in joining it, today’s Mail on Sunday reported.

“The Irish team have been remarkably popular here because of the close links between our country and Canada,” he told the Mail, adding, “They want to help Ireland become a bigger nation in winter sports.

“They have plenty of second generation Irish people here, who have asked about applying to compete for us,” he continued.

McGouran explained the Canadian team is extremely competitive, excluding many good Canadian athletes from the contests.

“We will certainly look favorably on any applications from first generation athletes, and a number of Canadians have already indicated their interest,” McGouran stated.

“It’s something we are going to look at,” he said. “It’s done in every other sport, so why shouldn’t it be done in winter sports?"

If Canadian Irish were to join the Irish Winter Olympics team, they would almost certainly improve it. Ireland received no medals this year.

The Canadian team is highly competitive.