Last minute pressure from the Spanish Government forced Kosovo to march under the flag of its National Olympic Committee at the Opening Ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona ©ITG

Kosovo were told at the last minute that their official standard bearer would not be allowed to parade with the national flag at the Opening Ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona last month, insidethegames can reveal. 

This had been at the insistence of the Spanish Government which does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state.

The national flag was used at the traditional welcome ceremony held in the Athletes' Village at the resort of Port Aventura but officials were informed of switch for the Opening Ceremony late in the day.

"It was not part of the agreement," Kosovo National Olympic Committee President Besim Hasani told insidethegames.

"We had our national flag at the international Village and all went well."

Word of the change came when the Spanish Government insisted on the flag change. 

At the Opening Ceremony flag-bearer Herolind Nishevci carried the banner of the Kosovo NOC which bears a miniature version of the national flag set above the Olympic Rings. 

"Somehow we were forced to do it," Hasani said.

He revealed discussions had taken place with International Olympic Committee and the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games before the late change was agreed.

The stadium announcer at the Nou Estadi also introduced the team as the "National Olympic Committee of Kosovo".

All other teams were announced with the name of the country.

Spain had previously been stripped of hosting rights for the European Junior Weightlifting Championships after refusing to allow entry to lifters from Kosovo. 

It had taken the intervention of the International Olympic Committee and the Tarragona 2018 Organising Committee before entry was granted to the Mediterranean Games.

It was necessary for officials to travel to the Spanish legation in FYR Macedonia to collect the documents for the teams to enter Spain.

The single flag-bearer at the Closing Ceremony also carried the NOC of Kosovo flag which was held on stage alongside the other 25 competing nations during the ceremonial part of proceedings.

Read "Why Kosovo's presence at Mediterranean Games is just the latest example of 'Olympic Geography' by clicking here