Monday, October 15, 2007

Politics Killing Sport

We have heard the news from the World Junior Chess Championship when Iranian representative refused to play against Israeli junior and forfeited the game. This is not the first time that Israeli sportsmen were boycotted. The same U-20 World Championship is taking place in Erevan, Armenia and the absence of Azerbaijan juniors, who are by the way among the best in the world, is obvious.

Today in the 2nd round of the Essent Crown group, 2005-junior world champion Shakhryar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan beat 2006-champion Zaven Andriasian of Armenia. You can bet this will be the most important news in Azeri mainstream media.

Two nations are in a long standing conflict over the Nagorno Karabakh region. Teimour Radjabov was asked more about his loss to Armenian Levon Aronian at this year's Corus than about his fantastic result and shared first place at the same tournament. Radjabov also admitted that he was forcing too much because he so wanted to win against the Armenian.

Two nations were also paired in the same group in the qualifications for the European Football Championship 2008. Those two games haven't taken place yet, even if the cycle ends next month. They simply can't see each other's face, not even on the neutral field, as Belgrade suggested to be a host.

Speaking of Belgrade, Serbian football team was scheduled to play in Erevan and Baku this week. After 0-0 against Armenia, they were to fly to Baku. Alas, Azerbaijan refused any conversation about accepting a plane from Armenia territory. Serbian plane had to go to Tbilisi in Georgia, wait for Georgian transit visas, change flight code, and then continue to Baku. What a hassle! They were even advised not to take any souvenirs from Erevan, imagine.

Knowing very well consequences of unjustified banning of sports, as on "the great democrat" Garry Kasparov insisting, Serbia was expelled from the European Team Chess Championship 1992 after they already played 1st round, I am strongly against the intrusion of politics. Leave the sportsmen enjoy the games.

Andriasian and Mamedyarov chatting

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