Seda Tutkhalyan
Sports and politics should never mix. International competitions have provided opportunities for greater understanding among cultures and nations. 

Sadly a lot of political situations have deeply affected the biggest events in sports.

The latest speculation suggests that Seda Tutkhalyan who is from Armenian descent was not considered for the selection of the Russian European Games team which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan due to safety concerns.

A conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has been ongoing for over a century.  The two countries have been fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked region in southwestern Azerbaijani.

Although 95 percent of Nagorno-Karabakh is ethnically Armenian, it is internationally recognized as being part of Azerbaijan. The region was given to Azerbaijan by then Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin back in 1923.

Since the dissolution of Soviet Union and the independence of Azerbaijan, the conflict over the secessionist territory  re-erupted more fiercely. It officially ended with a ceasefire in 1993, following a six-year war, but recently flared up again.

Since August of last year, dozens of troops from both sides have been killed.

The violent conflict between ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azerbaijanis, resulted in claims of ethnic cleansing by both countries.

Armenia was hesitant about their participation in Baku, however the country announced that they will send their athletes to the games last month.

"There's no need for our athletes to go to Baku," Levon Julfalakyan, the country's Greek-Roman wrestling team squad head coach said.

"Armenia has a difficult relationship with Azerbaijan and the trip to Baku could become a pretty risky affair."

"Those two countries have intense hate for each other. Under normal circumstances, anything Armenian is illegal in Azerbaijan and Armenians are not allowed to enter the country, even citizens of other countries of Armenian descent (including Seda even though she’s a Russian citizen)"  wrote a blogger on Tumblr

The Azerbaijani government has promised to provide heavy security for the Armenian delegation.

Tutkhalyan rose to fame when she won the Olympic youth all around gold last year.

Olympic champion Aliya Mustafina, European beam champion Maria Kharekova and Alla Sosnitskaya have been provincially selected to the Russian games team.

The first edition of the European Games will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 12 to 28 June 2015.

Written by Gigi Khazback Farid



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