The Azerbaijani weightlifting team refused to participate in the European Weightlifting Championships in Yerevan after the flag-burning incident during the opening ceremony of the tournament. On this subject informed Azerisport.com sports portal.
The publication contains a joint statement by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan. He states that “the commission of such a barbaric act in a ceremony in which the Prime Minister of Armenia also participated, and the support of the Armenian public for this act, as well as the presentation of the person who committed it as a hero, are a clear indicator of ethnic hatred, racism, xenophobia and Azerbaijani phobia in this country.”
“Among other things, this is completely contrary to the noble purpose and principles of sport, which promotes friendship between peoples and mutual understanding,” the statement said.
Azerbaijani authorities have deemed it impossible for the “normal participation of Azerbaijani athletes” in the championship, citing “an atmosphere of hatred in Armenia” and “psychological pressure in precarious security conditions”.
“In view of this, it was decided to send them back to their homeland. Armenia must ensure their safe return,” the statement said.
To the Armenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports considered “an alarming decision by the sports authorities of Azerbaijan in terms of sports ethics”, and also assured that the incident with the flag “was resolved very quickly” and had “nothing to do with the safety of the athletes” .
Azerbaijani flag incident
The day before, on April 14, designer Aram Nikolyan took the stage during the parade of flags of countries participating in the European Weightlifting Championship in Yerevan. The man snatched the flag of Azerbaijan from the girl’s hands, then set it on fire and carried it out of the hall.
“My desire was only to make sure that the flag of Azerbaijan would not fly in Yerevan, the capital of the Republic of Armenia,” explain Nikolyan his act. The designer also expressed hope that his actions would not affect the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
Immediately after the incident with the flag, Nikolyan was taken to the police. His lawyer Alexander Kochubaev reported Sputnik-Armenia that law enforcement decided not to open a criminal case on the fact of what happened during the opening ceremony of a sports tournament. “It is very good that at an early stage of the investigation, the investigating authority declared the absence of corpus delicti,” he said.
Armenian media reported that the office of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan was ordered to dismiss Nikolyan from the post of chief stylist of State Television, which he had held since 2013. The representative of State Television to the question of the correspondent of “Sputnik- Armenia” on the veracity of this information said : “I can’t add anything.”
At the same time, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan surprised on burning the flag, a criminal case under several articles of the criminal code at once:
on incitement of national hatred and enmity by the use of force, on incitement of national hatred and enmity using the official position, on insulting actions against the flag of Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has called for bringing to justice those who allowed the “hate action” at the opening ceremony of the European Championship.
“We condemn the burning of the national flag of Azerbaijan. It is worrying that the organizers took no security measures against such an act of hatred. The perpetrators should be punished accordingly,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizade tweeted.
The European Men’s and Women’s Weightlifting Championships will take place from April 15-23.
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