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Kosovo fallout: IOA fears sanctions 

New Delhi, November 13

The Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) top brass is a nervous bunch these days. The failure of Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku to get the visa document to participate in the women’s World Boxing Championships that gets underway in New Delhi from November 15 has the IOA officials in a bind.

This is the second time in a year that a Kosovo delegation has not been granted travel documents to participate in an international meet in India. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has censured Spain for a similar offence. IOC has advised various international federations to avoid hosting international competitions in Spain after the Kosovo team was prevented from participating under its flag at the World Karate Championships this week. IOA expects a similar censure from IOC after this latest infraction.

A three-member team from Kosovo that includes Sadiku, her coach Besim Brahimi and team leader Latif Demolli has yet not been given the travel documents by the Indian embassy in Sofia. It is understood that the Kosovo contingent has not been provided with the visa as India does not recognise Kosovo as a state. However, no official reason has been provided to the team for this delay. The draw for the tournament is scheduled to be held on Wednesday and it is unlikely that the Kosovo delegation will make it to New Delhi in time for the tournament. What’s surprising is that all three members of the team possess Albanian passports too, and both Boxing Federation of Kosovo and Boxing Federation of India were hoping that they would be granted visas as India has diplomatic relations with the Balkan nation. This is the second time a Kosovo team has been refused visas to travel to India for a competition — Sadiku and her team could not travel to Guwahati for the 2017 World Youth Championships. IOA president Narinder Batra has written a letter to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to resolve the issue. In his letter, Batra urged the matter be resolved, otherwise “…a situation will soon arise when all international federations will be told by IOC that no event can take place in India until Kosovo issue is resolved.”

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