By Nick Butler at the Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo

Kosovo Olympic Committee President Besim Hasani has achieved a longstanding ambition ©ITGKosovo Olympic Committee President Besim Hasani has claimed the Paralympics is his next goal following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) unanimous decision to accept the Balkan Republic as a full member here today.


Following the decision of the IOC's ruling Executive Board to grant provisional recognition in October, the vote of the members-at-large was always a rubber-stamping more than a real challenge, but, even so, the fact not a single member objected was still a surprise.

This now means Kosovan athletes will be able to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games under their national flag, as well as join other organisation such as the Association of National Olympic Committees and compete at events like the Baku 2015 European Games.

"I am very excited, very happy and feel complete," a delighted Hasani, who has led the KOC since 1996, told insidethegames afterwards.

"But at the same time I am full of energy and determined to work harder to have athletes compete in the Olympics and win medals.

"This decision shows that sport is always one step ahead of politics.

"Through sport many conflicts can be solved and bridges of friendship can be built."

Thomas Bach was among those to welcome Kosovo's Olympic inclusion ©Getty ImagesThomas Bach was among those to welcome Kosovo's Olympic inclusion ©Getty Images



Although recognised by 108 out of the 193 United Nations members since declaring independence in 2008, Kosovo is not a UN member predominantly because of opposition from certain nations, including Russia, China and Serbia.

This has been a stumbling block in terms of Olympic recognition as well, with the primary dispute over whether the Olympic Charter's demand to be "recognised by the international community" requires UN membership.

But following support from the IOC's Director of NOC Relations Peré Miró, support was voiced by ANOC President and influential IOC member, Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, as well as European Olympic Committees (EOC) head Patrick Hickey, who said Kosovo would now become the 50th EOC member.

From this point, is seemed clear a triumphant acceptance was inevitable.

Serbian officials, including Olympic Committee of Serbia President Vlade Divac, who was unable to attend today, were not happy with the decision, it was revealed afterwards, but accepted it "in the interest of the athletes".

Kosovo are now set to become a member of various other International Federations and organisations, ahead of Rio 2016, where two-time reigning world champion judoka Majlinda Kelmendi will be a leading gold medal hope.

World judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi competed for Albania at London 2012 but should now compete for Kosovo in Rio ©AFP/Getty ImagesWorld judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi competed for Albania at London 2012 but should now compete for Kosovo in Rio ©AFP/Getty Images




Hasani also revealed how he has already had a meeting with International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven and is hopefulmembership of that organisation will follow soon.

"We spoke about our procedure and once we are part of the IOC, which we now are, we were told we should apply," he said.

"We are going to apply immediately and have already established a Paralympic Committee to do that."

Paralympic sport in the Republic is still very limited to the extent they would likely only have a participant at Rio 2016 should a Kosovan-born athlete who lives overseas switch nationalist, but recognition is seen as a key catalyst to allowing further growth.

Speaking to insidethegames this afternoon, Sir Philip Craven spoke enthusiastically about the meeting yesterday and, although he does not have a timeline of when membership will be accepted, said that "discussions are underway" and progress is being made.

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November 2014: ANOC set to follow IOC lead by granting Kosovo membership
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October 2014: Kosovo set to appear at Baku 2015 after Olympic recognition
October 2014: Kosovo set to compete at Rio 2016 after granted Olympic recognition