Majlinda Kelmendi

Majlinda Kelmendi

Today The Financial Times features an article about Majlinda Kelmendi, a world judo star and Kosovo’s national hero, describing the difficulties and injustices that Kosovo Albanian athletes face when competing abroad.

“I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ve dreamed of representing my country at the Olympics, and I really don’t want someone to tell me it’s not possible to fight for Kosovo in London,” she says. “I don’t understand why everything has to be about politics.”

But Serbian lobbying has kept Kosovo locked out of the IOC and most international sports federations, according to sports minister Memli Krasniqi, preventing the tiny Balkan nation’s best athletes from competing outside the country unless they represent another state.

With Serbia determined to stymie its former southern province’s aspirations for nationhood (and countries such as Russia, China and Spain keen to restrict Kosovo, due to their own bubbling secessionist movements at home), the IOC is unlikely to allow Kelmendi to represent Kosovo in London.

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