Indian Olympic Association(IOA) fears that this grave situation could occur if India fails to give the passport to Kosovo’s boxer Sadiku for the upcoming Women’s World Boxing Championships to be held in the country.
India is at a serious risk of losing out on hosting big-ticket sporting events in the future if Kosovo’s lone boxer is disallowed from competing at the upcoming Women’s World Championships – the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) fear.
The international championship is set to commence from Thursday. However, there still looms a degree of uncertainty whether Donjeta Sadiku would be in the ring in the competition event as the Indian government is yet to confer visas to the Kosovan boxer and the two coaches that would accompany her.
Kosovo, or the Republic of Kosovo, is a highly disputed territory in the Serbian nation of Europe. It had unilaterally announced its independence from Serbia in 2008, from when it has received only partial recognition worldwide.
India too does not recognize Kosovo as a nation and as a result refrains from providing passports to the Kosovan nationals.
However, the matter is protracted as Sadiku holds an Albanian passport as well, a fact which the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) hoped would have resolved the issue. (Albania has diplomatic ties with India.)
“IOC has in the past sent letters to International Federations not to award major events to Spain after athletes from Kosovo were not allowed to participate under their own flag at the Karate World Championships. And you never know it might be India next,” an IOA official who wished to remain unnamed, told PTI.
“For IOC, sports and politics are two sides of the same coin. IOC doesn’t mix sports with politics and expects its member nations to follow the same guidelines”, the official told further.
The IOA official added that Kosovo also participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics despite the fact that Brazil too doesn’t recognise the disputed country. The BFI’s President Ajay Singh informed that they were discussing over the sensitive issue with the Indian government.
“We are still talking to the Ministry of External Affairs. It is a sensitive issue, I don’t want to comment much on it. We have taken up the matter,” Singh said.
“It’s a larger external affairs issue and it is not only an India issue. It is a global issue and there needs to be a dialogue between all sides to find a solution to this problem. This is not about boxing alone, it’s a much larger issue. We have taken up with the government and let’s see what happens”, Singh added.
Ajay Singh also said the IOC needs to mediate in this matter.
“This is an issue of many countries that don’t recognise Kosovo. So we have to find a solution between IOC and all these countries because this includes a lot of western nations, South-East Asian nations,” he said. “From our perspective, we want to follow the IOC guidelines. But ultimately the decision to whether or not grant visas is really a sovereign issue,” Singh added.
Kosovo, the newest Balkan state, is recognized by only 113 out of the 193 UN member nations. It thus will be interesting to whether she is given a visa after all, especially since the tourney would be starting from tomorrow. If she is allowed, Kosovo becomes one of the 9 member nations that will be debuting at the World Championships.