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Serbia protests Kosovo receiving IOC provisional recognition

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Serb ultra-nationalists wave the national flag on March 17, 2013, in Belgrade, during a protest marking the ninth anniversary of riots that left 19 dead and 900 injured in Kosovo. On March 17, 2004, Kosovo Albanians started three days of anti-Serb riots that also targeted dozens of Orthodox churches and monasteries that were destroyed or damaged. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

The Serbian Olympic Committee “strongly condemned” and lodged a protest against the International Olympic Committee Executive Board’s decision to provisionally recognize Kosovo on Wednesday.

Kosovo could send an independent delegation to the Olympics for the first time at Rio 2016, if the IOC grants full recognition in December.

Kosovo, which gained independence from Serbia in 2008, has never had athletes compete at the Olympics under its flag.

“For four years now, the Serbian Olympic Committee has successfully blocked attempts by the unilaterally declared Republic of Kosovo to gain IOC membership through various channels, while the Serbian authorities have also been timely informed of these attempts,” the Serbian Olympic Committee said in a statement Wednesday, according to Reuters. “We have information that the IOC is now prepared to support the initiative although we have stated several times, in cooperation with the Serbian government institutions, that such activities are unacceptable.”

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