International Olympic Committee recognizes Kosovo

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina - The International Olympic Committee has granted full recognition to the Kosovo Olympic Committee six-and-a-half years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

The formal recognition will enable Kosovo to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with an independent team, although it will first have to participate in the international competition next year at the European Games in Baku.

Besim Hasani, head of the Kosovo Olympic Committee, said: "This is one big day, one historical day, for the athletes of Kosovo. This is the beginning of a new era for the Olympic movement in Kosovo."

The IOC made the decision on Tuesday after a two-day meeting in Monaco, Monte Carlo.

Kosovo was the 205th national Olympic committee to be recognized by the IOC.

IOC began reviewing applications for the admission of Kosovo five years ago, a year after the southern Serbian province proclaimed itself independent in 2008.

Kosovo has been recognized by the 108 member states of the United Nations, but Serbia has refused to accept the breakaway province's independence.

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