THE International Olympic Committee last night confirmed that every effort would be made to accommodate Scottish athletes at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 should there be a vote in favour of independence next week.

Earlier this week the IOC president, Thomas Bach, pointed out that athletes from Macedonia had competed under the Olympic flag at Barcelona in 1992 despite their independence from the former Yugoslavia not having been officially ratified.

"We respect democratic decisions," the German said. "You can see from previous decisions we have been taking in similar cases that we are always safeguarding the interests of the athletes."

As well as the Macedonians, athletes from East Timor competed at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 while their country was in transition to independence. A South Sudanese athlete also competed under the Olympic flag in similar circumstances at London in 2012.

Previously, IOC vice-president Craig Reedie, himself a Scot, had said it would be "very, very difficult" to set up a new Scottish National Olympic Committee in time for the 2016 Games in Rio. In the event of a Yes vote the target date for independence is in March 2016, while the Olympics will get underway five months later.

According to the Olympic charter, a National Olympic Committee can only be established in an independent state which is recognised by the international community. Bach's response indicates that Scottish athletes will be allowed to compete in Rio even if a Scottish NOC is not in place in time.

Last night an IOC spokesman said: "The president did not speculate on this and just said that whatever happens we will make sure the athletes' interests are paramount."

In London two years ago Scottish athletes won 13 of Britain's 65 medals. These included golds for Sir Chris Hoy, Katherine Grainger and Andy Murray.