Skiers Kiana Kryeziu and Albin Tahiri will represent Kosovo at the Beijing Winter Olympics, although political leaders will observe the US diplomatic boycott of the games.
Many athletes will be taking the road to China on Saturday for the Winter Olympics in Beijing that start in a few days, on February 4.
A day before the athletes departed, the Kosovo Olympic Committee on Friday held a press conference where it clarified that Kosovo will send two representatives.
“Despite the poor infrastructure in Kosovo, we will have two athletes representing us. Out of 200 countries, only 90 countries are expected to participate in these games, and we are happy that Kosovo is among them,” Ismet Krasniqi, from the Kosovo Olympic Committee, said.
The President of the Kosovo Ski Federation, Milaim Kelmendi, said their goal is to be ranked among the top 30 countries at the games. According to him, this would be a great success.
Kiana Kryeziu, 17, is the first woman to represent Kosovo in Olympic skiing, a sport she started at a young age. ”From the age of 10 I have been dealing professionally with this sport, so participating in the Olympics is an opportunity I could not refuse,” she said.
“I am happy to be the first woman to represent Kosovo; I have had support from my family because they have also seen my desire and dedication to this sport,” she added.
Her training has cost the family a large sum but financial support from sponsors gave her the opportunity to train in Austria and Italy last year.
Kiana has made preparations for the Olympics together with her coach Agim Pupovci.
Skier Albin Tahiri, 32, was the first athlete from Kosovo to compete in the last Winter Olympics at PyeongChang in 2018.
This is the second time Tahiri will be representing Kosovo at an Olympics. “Every time I have competed for Kosovo it has been a very good feeling. I hope I will give my best in these Olympics,” he said.
Tahiri was born and raised in Slovenia. Before leaving for China, the team was handed the flag of state by the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani.
China is among a number of countries that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence, proclaimed in 2008, but despite that, its athletes will be represented under the state flag.
Meanwhile, President Osmani has decided to support the US diplomatic boycott of the games on account of China’s rights abuses, especially against ethnic Uighurs.
Bekim Kupina, an adviser to President Osmani, said that the boycott would not affect sportsmen and women competing in the games.
“This diplomatic boycott means that competing teams will participate in the Games, but the President of Kosovo will boycott all the official ceremonies and activities for the heads of delegations during the games,” Kupina explained.
Kosovo became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 2014.
The first sentence of the article has been edited, to correct the reference of Kryeziu and Tahiri as ‘skaters’, and correct it to ‘skiers’.
29 January 2022 - 12:42
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