Serbia and IOC patch up relations strained over Kosovo

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) The IOC’s decision to grant full recognition to Kosovo will not affect relations with the Olympic governing body, Serbian Olympic Committee president Vlade Divac said Friday

The ”disagreement (over Kosovo) cannot and should not be an obstacle to full cooperation and all discussions that we have about numerous other topics locally and globally,” Divac said at a news conference in Belgrade with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Despite opposition from Serbia, the IOC granted Kosovo, a former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008, full recognition in December. That clears the way for athletes from Kosovo to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bach said Kosovo was accepted ”in order to give all the athletes of the world access to Olympic sport and to the Olympic Games without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”

”When it comes to decision making, the IOC has to respect first of all the interests of all the athletes of the world, the interests of now 205 national Olympic committees of the world has to respect its own rules, has to take all this into consideration and then come to a decision,” Bach said.

Bach will visit Pristina, Kosovo, on Saturday.