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22 July, 2024
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Billiard forfeit over flag sparks debate

Greek Cypriot billiard player takes curve shot after forfeiting match against Turkish Cypriot opponent


A Greek Cypriot billiard player took to social media this week to express his frustration over a decision to forfeit a game against a Turkish Cypriot athlete, sparking debate on social media over sports and politics.

During a blind draw at a Dynamic Billard European Pool Championship in Finland this week, Greek Cypriot pool player Christos Meligaliotis was matched against Turkish Cypriot opponent Efe Ozkutayli who represented the northern part of the divided island, which is not recognized by other countries except Turkey.

Meligaliotis, who was representing the Republic of Cyprus, said he had instructions from the Cyprus Sports Organization and the Foreign Ministry to forfeit the game and let his opponent move forward, adding that the situation was “a big problem that the government has been unable to solve for so many years.”

“For how long are we going to keep coming to European tournaments with the fear that we may have to face them?” Meligaliotis asked, adding that he wanted to have a response from government officials “not as an athlete but as a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus.”

'How much longer are we going to keep coming to European tournaments with the fear that we may have to face them?'

Comments on his Facebook post included messages of support, with many calling for political pressure to be exerted on such tournaments to ban the Turkish Cypriot flag.

Others told Meligaliotis he should have played against the Turkish Cypriot opponent, with the pool player defending his decision and citing financial sponsorship form CSO and the possibility of being disqualified from national championships.

“The Organization on its part has done what was needed and it cannot do something more, this is a political issue,” Meligaliotis added. 

Another commenter brought up the issue of banning Russians from other sports during the war in Ukraine, suggesting there were double standards in the separation of sports and politics.

Nicosia has been monitoring similar diplomatic incidents around the globe recently, with Turkish Cypriot delegations and the display of their flag drawing condemnation from Greek Cypriot politicians who cite protocol volations.

But there have also been sports-related incidents that annoyed Nicosia, including travel arrangements for a volleyball match last year on the island between Portugal and Ukraine.

“Since when do we try to hide from our occupiers and bow down to their flag?” Meligaliotis said.

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