By Nick Butler in Lausanne

Provisional recognition has been granted to the Kosovo Olympic Committee by the IOC ©AFP/Getty ImagesProvisional recognition has been granted to Kosovo by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), meaning athletes from the country are set to compete at Rio 2016.

It is landmark decision, made by the IOC's ruling Executive Board at its meeting in Montreux today, and follows a long standing struggle since the formation of the Kosovo National Olympic Committee (KOC) in 1992.

The decision still has been to be officially rubber-stamped by the full IOC membership at the Extraordinary Session in Monte Carlo on December 8 and 9. 

But that is expected to be a formality. 

Kosovo are set to be the first country to be granted IOC recognition since Montenegro and Tuvalu in 2007

Besim Hasani, KOC President since 1996, who has dedicated much of his life to Olympic inclusion, was overcome with emotion when he spoke to insidethegames

"Finally we achieved our dream," said Hasani, who discovered the news when he was called by Pere Miró‏, the IOC's Director of Relations, National Olympic Committees.

"This is wonderful news for the athletes of Kosovo.

"We hope that Kosovo can be a good member of the Olympic Movement."

KOC President Besim Hasani has spearheaded the campaign for Olympic inclusion ©ITGKOC President Besim Hasani has spearheaded the campaign for Olympic inclusion ©ITG

The decision, however, is not without controversy because Serbia, Russia and China remain staunchly opposed to Kosovo's independence, declared in February 2008.

The IOC's ruling Executive Board, however, claimed the KOC has "met the requirements for recognition as outlined in the Olympic Charter" despite not being a member of the United Nations (UN). 

As well as sport and technical requirements, this includes the definition of "country" as defined in Rule 30.1 of the Olympic Charter, which refers to "an independent State recognised by the international community".

Kosovo is currently recognised by 108 of the 193 UN member states.

Brazil, hosts of Rio 2016, are among the countries who refuse to recognise Kosovo's independence, which could potentially be a problem. 

Among those who had supported Kosovo's campaign are FIFA President Sepp Blatter and International Judo Federation (IJF) chief Marius Vizer.

But, earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a state visit to Serbian capital Belgrade where he again made it clear he would not support Kosovo being granted Olympic recognition. 

The Serbian Olympic Committee have already protested about the decision.

"Such an admission would represent an exception without precedent in recent history, since no National Olympic Committee has been admitted to the IOC without its country first being admitted to the United Nations," they said in a statement.

It follows last week's abandonment of the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania after a drone was flown over stadium in Belgrade with political messages relating to the conflict.

Around 90 per cent of Kosovans are ethnic Albanians. 

Two time world judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi is set to be going for gold in Kosovo colours at Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty ImagesTwo time world judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi is set to be going for gold in Kosovo colours at Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty Images

The IOC, however, claimed they have decided to recognise Kosovo to support its athletes.

"The decision was taken by the Executive Board in the interests of the athletes in Kosovo and to remove any uncertainty they may have," a statement said.

"It will allow them to take part in qualifications for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and in future editions of the Games."

Judoka Majlinda Kelmendi will be Kosovo's main hope of success at Rio 2016. 

She was forced represent Albania at London 2012, only to be knocked out in her opening bout.

Since then, though, she has won both the 2013 and 2014 World Championship titles.

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