Kosovo boxers stopped at Serbia border before championships

National Sports

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP)Kosovo’s boxing federation on Sunday said Serbia had stopped its team entering the country to take part in the amateur world championships.

Kosovo had planned to send three competitors to the Oct. 24-Nov. 6 AIBA championships.

The boxers tried to cross the border with Serbia on Saturday but were asked not to wear their sports uniforms featuring their country’s logo. A repeat attempt on Sunday also failed despite efforts from the International Boxing Association, according to the Kosovo federation’s secretary general Latif Demolli.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo was a Serbian province before it declared independence in 2008. That followed fighting in 1998-1999 between Serbian troops and ethnic Albanian separatists, which ended after a NATO air campaign against Serbian forces.

AIBA said in a statement that it had contacted Serbian boxing authorities and was trying to resolve the issue, adding it aimed ”to provide a welcoming home for every boxer, and the world of boxing has no borders.”

”We believe that all athletes must receive a fair chance to compete and demonstrate their best abilities in the ring,” the AIBA statement said. ”Sport is intended to unite people and should be free of national politics.”

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