Azeri Apology: Sambo fighter says sorry for ‘unethical’ behavior

An Azeri sambo fighter has offered his apology for his unsportsmanlike behavior during the performance of Armenia’s national anthem at a recent competition, Levon Hayrapetyan, the head of the Sambo (Unarmed Self-Defense) Federation of Armenia, told Armenpress.

The incident happened during the World Cup that took place in Moscow, Russia, on March 27-29. Ashot Danielyan, a Karabakh-born Armenian fighter, won the tournament’s event in the 90-kg weight division. In the same event Azerbaijan’s Bakhtiyar Abbasov shared the third place with a Belarus fighter.

During the performance of Armenia’s national anthem in honor of the winner, instead of listening to it standing on the podium, Abbasov demonstratively squatted, which was regarded as unethical behavior on his part.

“It was a violation of the norms of ethics that was also negatively assessed by the Azerbaijani leadership attending the competition,” Hayrapetyan said.

The head of the Armenian Sambo Federation said that a representative of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Russia came up to him and personally offered his apologies and the Azerbaijani athlete offered his apologies to Danielyan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan warred in 1992-1994 and are still locked in a bitter dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite the latest upsurge in violence and rising military causalities in the simmering conflict, the Armenian National Olympic Committee said earlier in March that Armenian athletes will take part in the first-ever European Games to be held in Baku in June.

Sambo is one of the two dozen sports included in the program of the Games that are regarded in Azerbaijan as important for the country’s international image.