YEREVAN—The Taekwondo Federation of Armenia has issued a statement saying it is against Armenia’s participation in the European Games to be held in Baku in June.
“Considering the absence of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the hostile attitude of official Baku towards Armenia and its people, the ongoing violations along the Line of Contact and the continuing subversive acts launched by Azerbaijan that have left many Armenians killed or disabled, we announce that we find our participation in the Baku European Games inexpedient,” the Federation said in a statement.
“We find our participation in the games also unacceptable given the fact that Turkey and its junior brother Azerbaijan are organizing fake theatrical shows on the threshold of the Armenian Genocide Centennial,” the federation said in the statement.”
Meanwhile, Armenia’s Boxing Federation lamented the fact that going to Baku is a prerequisite for their participation in a world championship.
The Head of the Armenian Boxing Federation Arthur Gevorgian told Armenpress that Armenia’s boxers will be revoked of a spot in the World Boxing Championship if they do not compete in the Baku Games.
“Certainly, it is not preferable to participate in the Baku Games. It is not preferable for the reason that the sportsmen would not be able to display their best,” Gevorgian said. “By yesterday we had decided not to participate in the Games but yesterday we got a final decision from the AIBA that a change had been made and the participation in the Baku Games will provide us with the right to take part in the World Championship. Thus, if we do not go to Baku, we will not be able to participate in the World Championship. In this case we are imposed to do that, as the participation in the World Championship will provide us with the ticket to the Rio Games. Things are linked to one another.”
Armenia’s Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Gabriel Ghazaryan welcomed the decision of the Executive Committee of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia that Armenian sportsmen should participate in the European Games.
The minister says no matter what decision will be made by the National Olympic Committee of Armenia, national sports federations are to train and prepare athletes for the Games.
Gabriel Ghazaryan said it is important that the International Olympic and the European Olympic Committee promise to ensure the safety of Armenian sportsmen. At the same time the minister stressed that if Armenia refuses to participate in the European Games it might “not only damage the sports integrity of Armenian athletes but also dishonor Armenia in the international sports arena.”
US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick has also welcomed Armenia’s decision to attend the inaugural European Games in Baku.
“Good news that Armenian athletes will compete in the European games in Baku,” Warlick said in a Twitter post. He voiced hope that Azerbaijan would welcome the decision.
On the other hand, Ara Papyan, head of the Modus Vivendi Center, slammed the decision by Armenian officials to participate at the Games.
“Ahead of the European Olympics in Baku some European organizations, including human rights organizations, have been calling their countries to boycott the games for the violations of human rights in that country,” Papyan said in an interview, criticizing Armenia’s Olympic Committee for its decision to support the Baku Games.
“We are hereby telling the whole world that human rights are not violated in Baku, everything is fine, whereas we know a lot of cases when our civilians, having lost their way into Azerbaijan, were killed, tortured to death,” Papyan said, calling the decision “incomprehensible.”