Sunday, March 23, 2008

American Serb suspended from the European Swimming Championships for wearing pro-Serb T-shirt

A swimmer who was born to originally Serb parents in California, and trains in Florida, was suspended on Friday for the remainder of the European swimming championships because he wore a T-shirt proclaiming “Kosovo is Serbia” at an official ceremony.

The swimmer wasn't just any swimmer, and the ceremony wasn't just any ceremony. Twenty-three year old Milorad Cavic is the European 50-meter butterfly record holder, and he wore the T-shirt as he collected his gold medal on Wednesday.

The result of the expulsion from the championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands, was that Cavic missed Saturday's 100-meter butterfly, in which he was one of the favorites. He is reported to have said: "I'm really sorry I missed that race. I trained very hard for it".

Apparently, the Dutch organizers were so anti-Serb that they "accidentally" raised the defunct Serbia-Montenegro flag during the podium ceremony rather than the Serb flag.

The interesting thing is that Cavic, a U.S. citizen, is flying in the face of the policy of his country which is single-handedly responsible for the creation of Kosovo - though he is reported to have claimed on Serbian State TV on Saturday, that he "had no political intentions....I had to help my people knowing it could be a big risk for my swimming career. I'm proud of what I did."

Well, he may be proud but is it he who is right for having worn the T-shirt, or is it the authorities who organise the European swimming championships who are right for having expelled him?

My view is that both are right. Everyone has the right to do what s/he thinks is right. Cavic was both brave and right to do what he did. And the authorities are right to do what they did.

However, the authorities really need to re-think their attitude to what athletes wear, whether at the prize-giving ceremonies or while they are competing. It is time the authorities realised that the audience will, even if they consider Cavic wrong, only respect people such as Cavic more because of these silly rules. People are grown up enough to make up their own minds about whether Kosovo is Serbian, or Serbia is Kosovan, or neither.

The only messages or images that should be forbidden on competitors clothing are incitements to violence and (because children often watch these competitions) pornography.


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1 comment:

chris kondic said...

Stupid Cavic! Kosovo is 90+% Muslim Kosovar, less than 10% Serb/Orthodox.
Sure, there are some interesting old Serb monasteries in Kosovo, great for tourism, but Cavic needs to get with the 21st century, not the 14th.
Chris Kondic, a Serb in London