May 11, 2018 / 6:30 PM / 3 months ago

Karate-European federation to probe Serbian ban of Kosovo athletes

BERLIN (Reuters) - The European Karate Federation (EKF) on Friday launched an investigation into Serbian authorities’ refusal of entry to Kosovo athletes bound for the European championships in Novi Sad this week.

Athletes from Kosovo were refused entry into Serbia on Tuesday and Wednesday after being stopped at the border because the team had national symbols that Belgrade does not recognize.

“The EKF’s managing body decided to open an investigation into the matters surrounding the participation of athletes from Kosovo at the event,” the federation said in a statement.

“As a result of the conclusions reached today by the Executive Committee, a special commission has been created to gather all the information on the issue.”

The commission will be chaired by Croatian EKF General Secretary Stjepan Celan and will include two vice presidents.

The EKF did not give any timeframe for the investigation.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province which is not recognized as an independent state by Belgrade.

Kosovo declared independence 10 years ago, almost a decade after NATO bombed Serb forces to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians from the region during a 1998-99 counter-insurgency war.

It has been recognized by 116 countries, including 23 of the 28 EU members. Its membership of the United Nations has been blocked by Serbia’s allies Russia and China.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ian Chadband

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