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Press Release

MHRMI and AMHRC Demand an Apology from the IOC for Disrespecting Macedonia

August 12, 2016

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International Olympic Committee The Olympic charter claims that "The practice of sport is a human right." As is using your own country’s name. Once again, Macedonian athletes were forced to walk in behind the letter "F" for "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (or its equivalent) at the Olympic opening ceremonies. In Rio, it was “E” for “Ex”, in Sochi, “B” for the Russian word for “former”, and it’s the standard “F” in English-speaking countries. Any letter except “M” for “Macedonia” has become a hallmark of the IOC. The sheer size of the sign that said “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in the Parade of Nations shows the extent to which the IOC buckles when faced with Greek opposition to Macedonia’s name.

Macedonian Human Rights Movement International and the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee demand an immediate apology from the IOC for its blatant disrespect of Macedonia and its athletes. The IOC even succumbed to more Greek pressure and moved Macedonia from M for “MKD” to “T” for “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on the Rio 2016 website. Again, any letter except M. Of course, no use of simply “Macedonia” or “Republic of Macedonia” is ever permitted by the IOC.

Not only do we except and demand an apology from the IOC, it must also announce an immediate policy change to allow, yes “allow”, Macedonia to use its own name at the Olympics. We further reiterate our demand that the farcical UN-sponsored name negotiations be immediately ended and denounced, as an obvious attempt to eradicate Macedonia’s existence. These words were echoed by the first UN mediator for the name dispute, Robin O’Neil, who is pleading for an end to the name negotiations.

Greece has in the past admitted to manufacturing this dispute as a way to continue its denial and persecution of the large Macedonian population that it inherited after Macedonia’s partition among Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania at the beginning of the twentieth century. Moreover, it is Greece that is trying to appropriate Macedonia’s name, not the other way around as it claims.

Instead of deferring to the politically-motivated UN as an excuse to not defend human rights and common sense, the IOC must take action which shows unequivocally that the romanticizing and coddling of Greece has ended. Greece, while celebrated as the birthplace of the ancient Olympics, never existed as an entity or idea in ancient times. The modern Greek state was formed in 1830. IOC, show the world that the Olympic Games will no longer tolerate Greece's denial of Macedonia’s name and the Macedonian people.

We urge the Olympic community to show solidarity and join our demand for respect and equality. The right to self-determination is the most fundamental of human rights. Our Name Is Macedonia. IOC, respect it.

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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information:,, facebook,, 1-416-850-7125.

Established in 1984 the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) is a non governmental organisation that advocates before governments, international institutions and broader communities about combating discrimination and promoting basic human rights. Our aspiration is to ensure that Macedonian communities and other excluded groups throughout the world are recognised, respected and afforded equitable treatment. For more information please visit, email or via +61 3 9329 8960.

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