Iran says polo is international sport, UNESCO must not  exclude it to Azerbaijan

Tehran, Oct 28, IRNA – Head Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Mohammad-Ali Najafi said on Monday that Chogan (polo) is an international sport and that UNESCO must not exclude it to Azerbaijan republic.

He said in a letter to UNESCO secretary-general that UNESCO is expected to register Chogan (polo) as an international sport.

Najafi dismissed the Azeri request to UNESCO to register polo as an Azeri sport and said that polo must be registered as a multinational sport.

Najafi said that countries are entitled to investigate the 2003 Convention for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage related to registering with UNESCO.

He said that Iran is opposed to UNESCO’s plan to register polo on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity exclusively for Azerbaijan republic.

Meanwhile, ICHHTO Deputy Director Mehdi Hojjat said that Iran forwarded its objection to Azerbaijan application to register chogan (polo) on the list for Azerbaijan alone.

“We will tell UNESCO that the traditional game is a common element that should be not registered exclusively in the name of a single country.”

Hojjat said that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, along with Iran, have a claim on the game, adding that there is a consensus among all these countries that Azerbaijan does not have the right to register it for itself.

“Cultural records show that chogan has been played in Iran since ancient times. Ferdowsi in Shahnameh has made many references to this sport, and it has been portrayed in many historical miniatures,” he said.

The 8th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from December 2 to 7.

Twelve nominations from across the world will be examined for registration on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity needing urgent safeguarding.

Iran also raised an objection to UNESCO’s decision in December 2012 to inscribe the performance of the tar and methods for the construction of the Iranian musical instrument on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for Azerbaijan.