— Published 17 April 2023

Azerbaijan has packed up

Rare incident at the European weightlifting championships, held from April 15 to 23 in Yerevan, Armenia. Azerbaijan decided to withdraw its team last Saturday, on the first day of the event. In cause, the destruction of its flag during the opening ceremony, organized the day before. Pictures show a man running towards the stage to tear off the flag of Azerbaijan and set it on fire. Saturday, April 15, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Olympic Committee announced in a joint statement their decision to withdraw from the European Championships, justifying their departure by this “barbaric act” occurred during the opening ceremony. “In conditions when such an atmosphere of hatred prevails in Armenia, security is not ensured, the normal participation of Azerbaijani athletes in competitions is impossible due to the psychological pressure, explains the text. Politicising sport is absolutely unacceptable“. For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan called on Armenia to “immediately bring to justice” the person responsible for the incident. According to local media, it would be a stylist, Aram Nikolyan. But he was released without charge. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict for decades over Nagorny Karabakh, a mountainous region disputed by Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists.