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Boxing

Spain agrees to authorise Kosovan athletes in future tournaments

Spain agrees to authorise Kosovan athletes in future tournaments
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Published: 15 Nov 2018 4:24 AM GMT
As a country, Kosovo's status and indepence is not universally recognised. While the International Olympic Committee recognises the country and even allowed it to compete under its own flag at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Kosovan athletes have not been accorded the same status when participating in international events in all places. Recently, Delhi, and by extension, India's status as a venue for big ticket events has come under the scanner after a lone professional boxer from Kosovo was not accorded the visa to participate in the tournament as India does not recognise her country as a legitimate one. This has led to a tussle between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the IOC in matters which seemed to have moved beyond the boxing ring. While IOA has put out a plea requesting the Indian Government to consider, the final decision taken remains to be seen.
One of the earliest countries to deal with this issue was Spain who had not allowed the Kosovan countries to compete under their national flag at the 2018 Karate World Championships. Below is a joint statement put out by the Spanish Olympic Committee and the IOA wherein the former appears to have agreed to IOC terms regarding Kosovo's athletes for all future big-ticket events.

Statement:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) wish to publicly express their deepest satisfaction with the decision taken today by the Spanish Government regarding the participation of Kosovan athletes in international competitions to be held in Spain.
Through this decision, communicated today by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, Mr Josep Borrell, the Spanish Government will provide the Kosovan sports delegations competing in Spain with the relevant visa and will authorise them to use their own national symbols, anthem and flag, in accordance with Olympic protocol.
This will ensure that the athletes of Kosovo can participate under the same conditions as all the other athletes from the 206 National Olympic Committees recognised by the IOC.  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 sincere gratitude for this decision, adopted by the Spanish Government and supported by the Prime Minister, Mr Pedro Sánchez. Once again, the IOC and the COE wish to underline the fundamental role played by sport and the Olympic Movement in building a more inclusive, fairer society, in which dialogue and respect are the cornerstones and key principles.
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