TEHRAN (The New York Times)—Iran said Monday that it would oppose attempts by Azerbaijan to officially register polo with the United Nations as a purely indigenous sport, arguing that polo is an international game and Azerbaijan has no right to claim that it originated there.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mohammad-Ali Najafi, the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, as saying in a letter to Unesco that “Iran strongly requests the rejection” of Azerbaijan’s application to register polo — which both nations call chogan — as an entry on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India are among the countries that also have a claim on the game, the world’s oldest known competitive team sport, in which players on horseback use mallets to swat a ball through the opposing side’s goal posts.
Chairman of the Iranian Polo Federation Hamzeh Elhanizadeh noted Azerbaijan’s recent attempt to appropriate the name of Iranian poet Nezami Gyanjavi, saying that Baku is now trying to do the same with the ancient Iranian sport of polo, Fars News Agency reports.
Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — will decide on Azerbaijan’s application during a meeting of its Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 2-7.