Posts filed under ‘Sports’

Lithuanian president decides against going to Beijing Olympic Games

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus decided not to go to the Beijing Summer Olympic Games 2008.

The president’s press service announced that  the President will not take part in the opening of the Olympic Games, however plans to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) due this autumn.

The same press release stated that having noted that hosting the Olympic Games is a great honour and responsibility for any country, as it thus becomes committed to maintain and respect the spirit and principles of the Olympics, Adamkus wished China the best of luck in organizing this global athletic event.

The Lithuanian Head-of-State also hopes that the Olympic Games will help the world to become more familiar with China’s rich history, culture and people, and China’s opening up to the world and the dialogue and progress currently in development will be successfully continued after the games as well.

As the president decided against going to Beijing, the BNS noted that the Lithuania’s PM Kirkilas will be the highest-ranking Lithuanian official present in the Olympic Games. The prime minister will be visiting in China together with his wife August 17-25th.

In addition Mr Kirkilas observed that the president’s decision not to attend the Olympics is the only possible political move to draw the attention to the Tibet issue.  The PM said to the BNS:”I see the president’s move as a certain political move of support to Tibet’s independence aspiration. The president is not attending the opening ceremony, and participation in the Olympic Games in general is an entirely different thing. I am a guest invited by the International Olympic Committee and I intend to be there to support our athletes”.

However the Presidential palace made no comment to this remark.  Moreover, the small detail might be an answer to the silence.  The Presidential palace issued the statement about Adamkus’ decision soon after a non-formal freedom for Tibet support group operating in Lithuania presented the presidential palace with over 1,300 signatures calling Him to abstain from the Olympics in Beijing.

This is not the first time when Adamkus ignores big celebrations.  One of them was when Mr President declined an invitation from President Putin to celebrate 60th Anniversary of the end of the World War Two, in Moscow.

Still, one of the listeners on the radio, when commenting on the Adamkus decision not to go to Beijing was convinced that the President is not going because he has an environmentalist background and does not wish to see pollution in Beijing.

July 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm 2 comments

‘Kosovo is Serbia!’ a slogan in Vilnius

KFOR in KosovoIt is only a matter of days before Lithuania officially will recognize the Kosovo Independence.  Meanwhile the Lietuvos Rytas basketball club supporters raised a banner ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ during a match just few days ago.  So, what is happening in Lithuania?

First of all lets talk big politics.  According to the Lithuanian Constitution such an act could be adopted only by the Parliament (Seimas).  However, some politicians argue that the President alone could do this.

Nevertheless, the President already congratulated Kosovars with their Independence and asked the Minter of Foreign Affairs to submit the recognition proposal to Seimas.Hence, Seimas will begun its spring session on the 10th of March.  Then it looks that the matter will be solved soon after.  When the Chairman of the Seimas’ Foreign Affairs Committee was asked why Vilnius is lagging behind its Baltic neighbours and does not recognise Kosovo now he replied that ‘this is not a sports race’.

Well said, because Lithuania and Serbia (maybe more accurately, ex-Yugoslavia) has a very long sports ‘love and hate’ relationship.  This is of course about Lithuania’s second religion – HM basketball.  Since the Soviet times every game between a Lithuanian team and an ex-Yugoslavian team (regardless BCs or on the National lever after we gained Independence) was a nerve rack.  Lithuanians were good but the Serbs or Croatians could also play, and sometimes win.  When the Lithuanians lost it was never our fault, it was the Yugoslavians who bribed the referees, and so on, and so forth.

We have one or two ex-Yugoslav basketball players here and our Lietuvos Rytas team is trained by a Serb Trifunovic.  As we know the sports could be very political.  A great manifestation of that was a match in Vilnius when some of the Lietuvos Rytas’ supporters raised a banner with a slogan ‘Kosovo is Serbia!’  The Serbian coach refused to comment on it.

I am not convinced that the supports thought about the politics, more likely they thought about a moral support for their coach.  Same as the Kaunas’ Žalgiris suporters raised the Palestinian flag during a game with the Tel Aviv Maccabi team.  I am quite convinced that when the Lietuvos Rytas will change the coach to not a Serbian, we will see the Kosovo flags flying during a match against a Serbian team.  The Lithuanian sports fans are notorious of their Political Incorrectness.  We should only remember when the Lithuanian national team’s football fans unveiled a large banner with a shape of African Continent in the French national colours with a slogan ‘Welcome to Europe’.

Even thought the Lithuanian media is covering the Kosovo events well, I am not sure that many Lithuanians too concerned what is happening there.  However, the media and the politicians are quite united in support of Kosovo case.  First of all, Serbia is portrayed as the last bastion of the Russian influence in the Balkans.  Hence, this automatically puts Serbia ‘on the wrong side of the fence.’  Second of all, the commentators argue that this is not an ideal solution to the problem but it is the best in this complex situation.

However, there is a feeling in the air that the Serbs put their bet on the wrong horse, starting with Milosovech and ending up with the Russians.  Nevertheless, the Lithuanians congratulated the outcome of the Presidential elections in Serbia.

But the biggest talk in town at the moment is not Kosovo, it is the Vilnius Book Fair, the International Baltic book fair.  Reading books is once again become a fashionable past time in Lithuania.  This year the Fair welcomed the acclaimed American novelist John Irving (read an interview with him) and the most popular living Norwegian writer Per Petterson.

P.S. I am not sure that many from the general public aware that the Kosovars are the Muslims.  Having in mind that absolute majority of the Lithuanians have a ‘reserved’ attitude towards the Muslims, their view of Kosovo would alter.  Paradox is that a ‘reserved’ attitude towards the other races than white does not obstruct Lithuanians’ fascination with the black NBA players.  Furthermore, my generation’s never ending ‘love affair’ with Freddy Mercury goes on despite a very ‘reserved’ view towards the gay persons. 

February 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm 8 comments

Lithuanian basketball supporter’s been released from the Madrid prison

Tomas Balaisis-SeklaThe most famous Lithuanian basketball supporter Tomas Balaišis-Sėkla has been released from detention in Madrid and would be able to attend tonight’s match between Lithuania and Slovenia.  However, the supported will have to return to Madrid sometime in September or October for a hearing, since the Spanish policeman was not able to formulate his accusations against the supporter.

The incident acured between the Spanish police and the Lithuanian national team’s supporters two days ago just before the Lithuania – France match.

The Lithuanian national media actively reacted to the incident.  Even the Lithuanian Prime Minister Mr Kirkilas office issued a press release regarding the incident.  Part of it states that – ‘Concerned about media reports on the incident between Lithuanian basketball fans and Spanish police in Madrid, during which the Lithuanian flag was torn and the fans were beaten by the police, Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas held a telephone conversation with the country’s Ambassador to Spain Mečys Laurinkus.’

Basketball is regarded as a second religion in Lithuania, after Catholicism.

September 12, 2007 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Lithuanian basketball fans clashed with the Spanish police

LT basketball fans in a front the Spanish embassy in VilniusAs the BNS reported some fans of Lithuanian basketball team suffered right before the match of Lithuania and France in Madrid. Fans of the Lithuanian team and the police officers pushed each other near entrance to the arena on Monday night.One of the Lithuanian fans suffered during the incident, he was taken to the police commissariat with handcuffs and beat-in head. As the agency informed  according to primary data, the incident arose when one of Lithuanian fans tried to bring Lithuanian flag with long handle into the arena. Guards of the Spanish arena forbade that and they tried to solve the problem by cutting the flag, Lithuanians resisted it. Additional force came for suppression of the indignant Lithuanians, they started beating Lithuanians with rubber sticks.According to the report, Lithuanian women also got several beats of the officers.

However, the Lithuanian Ambassador confirmed that both, Lithuanians and the Madrid police are presenting the different sides to the same story.Sekla in the hands of the Spanish policeSome of the Lithuanian basketball fans gathered in the front of the Spanish embassy in Vilnius to protest against detention of on the most known Lithuanian basketball fan Sekla, at the incident scene.  The Lithuanian might face a penalty of 1.000 Euro or even more serious concequencies.

As the BNS reported according to the information available to the ambassador, observation cameras are installed in the incident location, so it will not be difficult to find out the truth. On Tuesday, Spanish court will decide how to punish the fan detained, diplomats of Lithuanian embassy to Spain will also attend the hearings.Lithuania‘s attaché in Spain Mindaugas Gabrenas informed BNS that Balaisis detained by the police is accused of resisting to the police officer and will probably be implied a fine. “A stepped-up trial will take place this morning, I will also go to it and I also will be the interpreter in the process. A lawyer has been appointed for the Lithuanian, we expect to finish it today,” Gabrenas told BNS.

In his words, more Lithuanians experienced troubles during the incident on Monday.

“They all feel hurt morally, but I myself saw two people who suffered physically: lightly injured detainee and one girl. We went to a hospital with her yesterday at midnight, she asked for medical examination, today we have plans to apply to the police because of bodily injuries,” the diplomat said. In his words, there are different versions of the incident. “The media says one, the fans another, the police has the third version and all the versions are different. As far as I understood, the incident arose because of a try to bring in a flag with stem, even though it is forbidden to bring such things into arena. The police tried to take off the stem, the flag kind of was torn, I cannot say it exactly because I did not see the flag. Then the conflict arose and spread into other locations of the arena. Additional police forces were brought, the most aggressive our fans were dispersed and calmed down,” Gabrenas said.Still, the Lithuanian team won the match against French with a result 88:73 and has no losses in the European Championship

September 11, 2007 at 3:20 pm 5 comments

Urbonas’ 2nd attempt to cross the Baltic Sea ended up in fiasco

Pinocchio effectAfter a long silence the Lithuanian sportsmen Vidmantas Urbonas admitted that he failed to complete to swim all lap over the Baltic Sea.  Some few dozens of remaining kilometers to Gotland were ‘swum’ in a yacht.  I am sorry for this shameful confusion early on. 

September 2, 2007 at 12:27 pm Leave a comment

Vidmantas Urbonas conquered the Baltic Sea

The logo of the race‘I have surpassed my plans and instead of 209 km I managed to swim 250 km.  However, psychologically it was more difficult to return to the Sea after the first attempt failed .’ said Vimantas Urbonas , on his way to Lithuania from Gotland. on the 21 of August after successfully completing his swim over the Baltic Sea.

According to Urbonas the weather conditions were much more favourable during this leg of the swim.  At some stretches the water temperature was as warm as +19C, the wind blew from the back which also helped.

Vidmantas Urbonas is already thinking about repeating his swim over the English Channel.  The first attempt failed due to the bad weather conditions.

August 22, 2007 at 11:43 pm 1 comment

Vidmantas Urbonas is planning to reach Gotland tonight

The logo of the raceAs the Lithuanian Radio reported the sportsman Vidmantas Urbonas has resumed his swim over the Baltic Sea (this time from Latvia) on Sunday, August 19, and is planning to reach the island of Gotland tonight, Monday, August 20.

According to the manager of the race Ugnius Savickas Vidmantas Urbonas has crossed a zone which is already reachable by a Swedish mobile phone network. ‘The weather conditions are acceptable, sportsman’s status is good and stable, the mood is also good.’

He added that the night was rather quiet, and Vidmantas is swimming since 0600, with hourly breaks, and if the weather conditions will allow they should reach Gotland at about 2300 tonight.

August 20, 2007 at 7:49 pm 1 comment

The 40th Curonian Regatta was stopped by the Russian boarder guards (updated)

40th Curonian Spit RegattaAs it was mentioned yesterday the yachtsmen who are participating in the Curonian Regatta were denied entry into Russia’s territorial waters on Monday, although Russia had officially issued the required permits.

As BNS informed later the route of the second stage of the Curonian Regatta that involved sailing through the waters of the Kaliningrad enclave all of a sudden was modified to bypass Russia as border guards refused to let the yachtsmen in.

According to the news agency this happened as Russia’s Foreign Ministry had issued a permit for the participants in the Curonian Regatta to enter the territorial waters of the country, but border guard officers were not notified of this fact.

As the organizers told to BNS yesterday   “Today I spoke with Lithuania‘s embassy in Russia, which directly cooperates with Russia’s Foreign Ministry, and officials at the embassy gave me a confirmation from Kaliningrad that we can indeed enter their waters”.

The next stage of the regatta is scheduled to take place in Russia.

August 8, 2007 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

UNESCO champion’s title awarded to Virgilijus Alekna, the Lithuanian discus thrower

Virgilijus AleknaTwice-Olympic, world and European champion discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna has been nominated champion for sports by UNESCO.

This title is awarded to the most prominent figures in sports. It helps spreading UNESCO’s ideals around the world — sports education and sports must serve for a better future of the young generation, the Foreign Ministry has reported.

Before Alekna, the title of a UNESCO champion for sports has been awarded to soccer legend Pele, F-1 pilot Michael Schumacher, judo Olympic champion David Douillet, tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne, pole-vault champion Segey Bubka, boxers Vitaliy and Vladimir Klichko, ice-hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov.

In 2003, Lithuania‘s President Valdas Adamkus was nominated UNESCO’s good will ambassador for the society of knowledge.

August 1, 2007 at 1:12 pm 1 comment

Lithuanian swimmer Urbonas intending to return both to Baltic Sea, English Channel

Urbonas in the Baltic Sea, by V. Sciavinskas
Accoriding to the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas, obstructed from carrying out his plans to cross the Baltic Sea by bad weather, Vidmantas Urbonas intends to return to the sea and finish the project.
Urbonas intends to finish the swim from the spot where he was forced to stop by the elements in the nearest future, as soon as a more favourable weather forecast comes.

In future, he also intends to cross the English Channel as well, a thing he already attempted to do one year ago but was unable to finish the swim due to bad weather.

Read more…  There is also an article in the Baltic Times

July 30, 2007 at 10:19 am 1 comment

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