The Kosovo flag has so far been absent from the World Athletics Indoor Championships ©Getty Images

The Kosovo flag is not being displayed at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Serbia amid a long-standing dispute over the country’s independence from the host nation, and is also absent from the World Athletics website.

Gresa Bakraqi is the only athlete representing Kosovo at the event which got underway yesterday in Serbian capital Belgrade.

But her country’s flag was not shown on the big screens at the Štark Arena when she competed in the second heat of the women’s 1500 metres.

The Kosovo flag has also not been included on the official competition website ran by the Organising Committee and hosted on the World Athletics domain.

The Olympic Committee of Kosovo posted a message on Twitter yesterday to highlight the decision by organisers not to feature its flag.

The Kosovo flag is not being used on the official website for the World Athletics Indoor Championships ©World Athletics
The Kosovo flag is not being used on the official website for the World Athletics Indoor Championships ©World Athletics

World Athletics told insidethegames that it had made efforts to ensure Bakraqi could participate "without tension".

“Everyone is aware of the political situation in this region," a statement from World Athletics read. 

"World Athletics, the Belgrade22 Organising Committee and the Kosovo Athletics Federation worked together to ensure the athlete from Kosovo could compete without tension. That included all parties agreeing that the athlete would be represented by her World Athletics three letter country code (KOS)."

insidethegames has also contacted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for comment.

World Athletics told insidethegames in January that it did not foresee any problems surrounding the participation of Kosovo at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

"It’s a condition of hosting so we don’t anticipate any issues," a spokesperson from World Athletics said.

World Athletics’ comments came after the IOC issued a letter in December warning that Serbia must not prevent athletes from certain nations from competing at major events it hosts.

A Kosovo Boxing Federation delegation was denied entry to Serbia on at least three occasions for the Men's World Boxing Championships in Belgrade last October despite the involvement of its athletes being part of the hosting agreement with the International Boxing Association (IBA).

Three Kosovan boxers, a selector and a member of staff had been due to travel to Serbia for the World Championships.

The incident was condemned by the IOC and the IBA, with the former criticising the International Federation for failing to conduct due diligence before awarding the event to Serbia.

Kosovo and Serbia have had border restrictions in place since the former's self-declaration of independence in 2008, with travellers often having to pass through North Macedonia or Montenegro to move between the states.

There is division in the international community over recognition of Kosovo.

Kosovo's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it is recognised by 117 countries, which include the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia.

However, it is viewed by Serbia as an autonomous part of that country, a stance backed by its ally Russia, as well as China.

Many countries with separatist movements within their own nations do not support Kosovo's independence, including Spain.

The Spanish Government initially refused to grant Kosovo permission to compete under its own flag at the 2018 Karate World Championships, before backing down following pressure from the international sporting community.