IOC to discuss possible Kosovo Olympic recognition: spokesman

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2014 6:21 AM

BELGRADE (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee will discuss the possibility of granting Kosovo Olympic recognition on Wednesday, an official said, a move that has angered Serbian Olympic officials.

"We can confirm that Kosovo will be addressed at the Executive Board (later on Wednesday)," IOC spokesman Mark Adams told Reuters.

The Serbian Olympic Committee (OKS) said it had been informed that Kosovo will be granted full membership, the OKS said on its official website (www.oks.org.rs).

"The Serbian Olympic Committee has been informed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) an official initiative by the unilaterally recognized Republic of Kosovo for full IOC membership," the body said.

"For four years now, the Serbian Olympic Committee has successfully blocked attempts by the unilaterally declared Republic of Kosovo to gain IOC membership through various channels, while the Serbian authorities have also been timely informed of these attempts.

"We have information that the IOC is now prepared to support the initiative although we have stated several times, in cooperation with the Serbian government institutions, that such activities are unacceptable."

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade refuses to recognize it, saying the territory, which has a majority Albanian population, is a heartland of the Serbian nation.

Olympic membership through a national Olympic Committee allows athletes to compete in the summer and winter Games while also accessing IOC funds for the development of sport in their region.

Athletes also march with the flags of their nation at the opening and closing ceremonies.

"Such course of action would amount to a precedent which has not occurred in recent history, given that no national Olympic Committee has been admitted into the IOC without the country previously being granted United Nations membership."

There are currently 204 NOCs over five continents that includes nations as well as some territories.

(Reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic and Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)