By Nick Butler

Kosovo is seeking FINA membership following their IOC acceptance ©FINAKosovo Olympic Committee (KOC) President Besim Hasani has called on the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to speed up its process to accept Kosovan membership, questioning why this has not already occurred.

This follows Kosovo's long awaited acceptance as a full International Olympic Committee (IOC) member during the Session in Monte Carlo earlier this month, with IOC President Thomas Bach predicting many other federations would follow his organisation's lead.

But although three countries - Gabon, St Maarten and Belize - were added to FINA during a Bureau meeting in November, Kosovo was not among them, despite the nation having some promising swimmers.

FINA has since told insidethegames Kosovo is "likely to become a full member before the European Games in Baku", from June 12 to 28 next year, although no further information was given.

Kosovo is already becoming the 50th member of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), with EOC President Patrick Hickey confirming the nation will compete at the inaugural continental Games in Baku. 

But it is yet to be seen whether Kosovo will be permitted to compete at the following month's FINA World Championships in Kazan, with host nation Russia a country staunchly opposed to Kosovan independence, as well as to its claim to become a member of United Nations.

"With FINA Statutes they don't have a reason for not recognising Kosovo," Hasani told insidethegames.

"Maybe there is another reason, but I cannot see why they are not allowed.

"We have some swimmers who have achieved some good results, and there are many FINA events we would like them to compete in, and I would like to give them scholarships, but we cannot do this until they become a member."

Three new members were added to FINA during a meeting ahead of the Extraordinary Congress in Doha last month ©FINAThree new members were added to FINA during a meeting ahead of the Extraordinary Congress in Doha last month ©FINA

Various other bodies have still not accepted Kosovo as full members, although the International Gymnastics Federation has recently done so, and others, such as the International Cycling Union, are currently taking steps to follow suit.

But with the notable exception of athletics, as well as swimming, most of the other sports Kosovo remains unaffiliated to are relatively undeveloped in the Balkan Republic, to the extent that no membership request has yet been sent. 

A process has already begun to accept Kosovo as a member of the International Paralympic Committee, although it is unlikely many athletes from the nation will compete at Rio 2016, due to the lack of active Paralympians at this stage. 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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