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Azerbaijan Banned the Guardian to Cover the European Games

Azerbaijan does not stop surprising the world. If many would think that on the eve of the European Games Azerbaijan would restrain from any provocations, a very interesting news appeared. The government of Azerbaijan banned the Guardian, along with a number of media outlets and human rights activists, from entering the country to cover the European Games, The Guardian informs.

As the source informs, The Guardian has applied for accreditation and this request was confirmed on June 5. It was only on Thursday morning, a day before the opening of the Games, that The Guardian was informed about the ban.

According to The Guardian, this is most probably linked with the Guardian’s trip to Azerbaijan in December for reporting on preparations for the European Games. Guardian’s chief sports correspondent, Owen Gibson, who went to Azerbaijan met government critics including the investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who investigates corruption in Azerbaijan’s first family.

 "Government repression is making the European Games historic for all the wrong reasons," said Rachel Denber, the deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The European Olympic Committee still has the chance to prevent the Games from being tarnished by the Azerbaijani government’s abuses, but time is running out."

A statement from the European Olympic Committee, as the Guardian reports, said the ban on journalists is "completely against the spirit of sport" and promised the matter would be raised with authorities by its president, Patrick Hickey.

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