Politics 16:55 07/09/2018

Sport – the victim of Azerbaijani state policy

Author Tatev Manukyan

The Armenian national Judo team will not visit Azerbaijan to take part in the World Championships 2018 slated for September 20-27 in Baku. As Panorama.am was told at the press department of the ministry of sport, the hosting country had refused to provide security guarantees for the Armenian delegation.

This is not the first case when Armenian athletes refuse to go to Baku for reasons of lack of security guarantees. Panorama.am turned to expert in Azerbaijan Anzhela Elibekova to comment on whether mixing sport with politics by Azerbaijan is the case and whether it is done are deliberately.

“The Azerbaijani side published a letter today stating all the guarantees of the Armenian side were ensured and as alleged the security matters didn’t need separate reference. The Armenian side, in turns, points to security concerns, the reason the Judo team will not participate in the competition,” Elibekova said, reminding the news came against the backdrop of discussions whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Armenian midfielder of Arsenal should go to Baku (Arsenal tie with Qarabag FK in the Europa League).

The expert reminded that Mkhitaryan’s entry was actually blocked in the past because of the visit to Nagorno Karabakh as Azerbaijan blacklist all people who visit Artsakh. Mkhitaryan did not travel to Azerbaijan with Borussia Dortmund in 2015 because of security concerns.

Elibekova also recalled the story of the Eurovision song contest which the Armenian team didn’t attend years ago in Baku.

“Whenever, we went and participated in this or that event, incidents were recorded. In 2012, when our boxing team was in Baku, stones and woods were thrown on our athletes from the stands that resulted in an injury of one of the athletes, they even blocked the bus of the team to leave,” the expert said.

Apart from that, Elibekova recalled the handing of awards to the winning boxers at the European Games when Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev presented Armenian boxer Gevorg Manukyan with a medal and the audience, which always used reacted to Armenian surnames with whistles, started whistling again, but Aliyev silenced the crowd with a gesture: “In contrast to Azerbaijan, we have had no incidents with Azerbaijanis who visited Armenia,” added the expert.

In Elibekova’s opinion, sport should not be mixed up with politics, yet the case is impossible when we deal with Azerbaijan. “If the adversary state is not ready for any adequate dialogue, not ready to receive the guests properly, the Armenian side has nothing to do but refuse the trip,” explained the speaker.

Anti-Armenian manifestations are felt in all spheres of Azerbaijan. In Elibekova’s words, that has been rooted in their public and regretfully turned into a culture.

Source Panorama.am
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