Kosovan boxer unlikely to get visa

Spain’s position on Kosovo could hurt its chances to host major sports events

Not recognising Kosovo could cost Spain major events

Fearing serious repercussions, the Indian Olympic Association Wednesday asked the sports ministry to immediately resolve the controversy surrounding Kosovan boxer Donjeta Sadiku's visa. The catalyst was a totally unrelated event being held in Spain - the Karate World Championships in Madrid.

IOC NewsThe 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. The Spanish government banned the Kosovar flag and while athletes participated in the event, they had to do so wearing a neutral uniform.

The Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil were the first Olympics in which Kosovo athletes competed under their own flag, after Kosovo was accepted as a member of the IOC in 2014. "And you never know - it might be India next", an IOA official who did not wish to be named, told PTI. IOA president Narendra Batra warned India to gear for similar backlash.

Government sources expressed surprise at the possibility that the IOC could consider not hosting worldwide events in countries that do not recognize Kosovo, which also include Russia, China, India and Brazil. The entire middle-east does not recognise Israel but their judo team participated in UAE (in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018) under their flag and anthem. As a host country, the most high profile run-ins with visa issues that we have had have been with our neighbours Pakistan- a strained political relationship often seeping into the two countrys' sports as well. The sports ministry has also taken note of this apprehension.

He continued: "We have the support of these sporting institutions, but problems [still] appear when we have to deal with state protocol, [over matters such as] visa issues". Asked on IOA's apprehension, he said: "We have not seen any official letter from the International Olympic Committee but there is an apprehension in IOA which we have considered and we have appraised the MEA of this".

The Foreign Ministry said it has no official information that the International Olympic Committee may be planning to change its position regarding the participation of Kosovar athletes in countries that do not recognize the country's independence. "But now it is up to them". However, as BFI President Ajay Singh was quoted as saying, "This is not about boxing alone, it's a much larger issue", he said. "We are still talking to the Ministry of External Affairs". Sources within the organisation also revealed that they had initially expected Sadiku to use her Albanian passport.

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