Timor is an island in the Lesser Sunda Islands, a portion of the Indonesian archipelago, south of Sulawesi. The island was controlled by the Portuguese for 400 years, but in the 20th century was divided into a Portuguese half (East) and an Indonesian half (West). In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor and seized it, but a separatist movement developed almost immediately. On 30 August 1999, East Timor was allowed to vote in a referendum and 79 percent of the population opted to secede from Indonesia. Rioting and violence ensued when Indonesia refused to allow this, and United Nations’ forces entered East Timor on 12 September 1999. In early 2000, East Timor was granted provisional independence by Indonesia.
East Timor first competed at the Olympic Games in 2000 at Sydney, although not under that name. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed athletes from East Timor to compete under the designation of Individual Olympic Athletes (IOA). Four athletes represented East Timor at Sydney – three men (one each in track & field athletics, boxing, and weightlifting) and one woman (in track & field athletics). East Timor was recognized by the IOC at the 115th Session in Prague on 3 July 2003. At Athens in 2004, East Timor was represented by two athletes, one man and one woman in track & field athletics, while in Beijing in 2008, one female track & field athlete represented the nation. All competed in the marathon only, with the best finisher, Aguida Fatima Amaral, who placed 65th in 2004. In 2014 Timor-Leste also competed for the first time in the Winter Olympics with the Alpine skier Yohan Gonçalves.