IOC warns Spain over Kosovo stance

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has called on International Federations (IFs) to perform thorough checks before awarding event-hosting rights to Spain after renewed issues concerning Kosovan athletes at the Karate World Championships.

The Championships concluded in Madrid yesterday (Sunday), but with the Spanish government unwilling to recognise Kosovo, the nation’s athletes were prevented from competing under their own flag.

IOC deputy director general Pere Miró told insidethegames: “If the Spanish government are not in the conditions to guarantee the access not only to Kosovo but to every athlete to compete, we should warn all IFs that, until this is solved, they should not hold international competitions there.”

Spanish official Miró, who serves as the IOC’s director for National Olympic Committee (NOC) relations, maintains a deal for Kosovo to compete with the initials of their federation – the KKF – was “acceptable”, but equally “did not go far enough”.

While Kosovan athletes wore kit bearing the KKF logo, Kosovo was still represented as ‘World Karate Federation (WKF) 5’ on scoreboards and video screens in the Madrid arena. Kosovan athletes encountered similar problems at the Mediterranean Games, which were held in Tarragona earlier this year.

Miró added: “We cannot suspend a country and we cannot say they cannot organise events there. But we are totally ready to say that and this is what we will say now – IFs, please before awarding any competition, make sure you have all the guarantees that all athletes will be welcome in Spain.

“We need to be totally clear with the federations and say, look, this is the situation and please pay attention to that.”