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Trdat Musheghyan

Yerevan: Azerbaijan Pulls Out of Weightlifting Championship Following Flag Burning

Azerbaijan has pulled out of the European Weightlifting Championship in Yerevan following an incident at the opening ceremony on Friday when a spectator rushed to the stage and burned the Azerbaijani flag.

Police identified the culprit as designer-modeler Aram Nikolyan, who was detained by police station and released a few hours later.

Three days before the start of the tournament, the Weightlifting Federation of Azerbaijan confirmed that four of its weightlifters would participate in the tournament. Baku had demanded additional security at the event given ongoing hostilities between the two countries.

On April 13, Araik Harutyunyan, PM Nikol Pashinyan’s Chief of Staff, said Armenia would ensure the safety of all athletes at the tournament.

Azerbaijan today issued a statement that the flag burning incident has created undue psychological pressure for its athletes.

Azerbaijani Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Farid Gaibov has called on the European Weightlifting Federation to impose sanctions against Armenia.

The last international sports events held in Armenia in which Azerbaijan participated was the 2012 World Youth Boxing Championship. In 2022, the European Boxing Championship was held in Yerevan, but the Boxing Federation of Azerbaijan decided not to participate.

The last sports event held in Baku in which Armenia participated was the 2015 European Games.

Update: The European Weightlifting Federation, in a statement, strongly condemned the flag burning.

“The EWF considers this extremely serious and regrettable gesture an attack on the integrity of sport values and on the universal principles of Fair Play.”


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