Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Spain to allow Kosovan athletes to use flag, anthem

Spain to allow Kosovan athletes to use flag, anthem

BFI president Ajay Singh also conceded that it was up to the MEA.

"If #India Government doesn't allow my participation at #Women #World Championship #NewDelhi2018, because of Visa issue I will consider quitting my future in boxing", the Kosovo Olympic Committee (NOC Kosovo) tweeted quoting boxer from their country Donjeta Sadiku as saying.

The Balkan country has been recognised by more than 110 countries. 73 nations are set to participate in the 10th edition of the championship.

The controversy began a couple of days ago when reports of Kosovar boxer Donjeta Sadiku and her two coaches being denied visas began to surface.

The IOC immediately sent letters to all the global federations not to award major events to Spain.

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This led the IOC to tell global federations that they could not award any more major events to Spain until the matter was resolved.

"The Spanish Government will provide the Kosovan sports delegations competing in Spain with the relevant visa and will authorize them to use their own national symbols, anthem and flag, in accordance with Olympic protocol", the IOC statement said. IOA president Narendra Batra warned India to gear for similar backlash. A spokesman for the Diplomatic Information Office said that in countries that do not recognize Kosovo, these athletes are allowed to participate under the flag of the Kosovo Olympic Committee. While this measure might make sense from Spain's point of view in light of the secessionist bid in Catalonia, it is endangering its own influence and prestige in worldwide sports, and could even undermine Spanish aspirations to organize major events. "Otherwise, this will threaten the fundamental principles of Olympic Movement", Batra wrote in his letter.

Kosovo also participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics despite the fact that Brazil, too, doesn't recognise the disputed country.

If one remembers correctly, this was also a subject that took over the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation after after Swiss footballer Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka were much in the limelight for their rendition of the Kosovan eagle after scoring goals in the tournament where the host country did not recognise Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The decision by the Spanish Government was communicated today, 14 November 2018, by letter to the COE President, Mr Alejandro Blanco, and we would like to reiterate our honest gratitude for this decision, adopted by the Spanish Government and supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Pedro Sánchez. Kosovan boxers were also denied entry in the Youth World Championships held in Guwahati a year ago for the same reason.

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