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Sociologists: No hockey animosity between Czechs and Slovaks

SLOVAKS and Czechs did not allow the Olympic hockey duel between their national teams yesterday to affect their friendly neighbourly relations, a further sign that tensions over the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 have healed.

"Currently such games have a purely sporting context. The Czechs are a traditional sports rival, and the Slovaks tend to compare themselves with the Czechs and to want to be at least as good as they are," Slovak sociologist Ján Bunčák said.

Since 1993, the attitude of Slovaks in particular towards the Czechs has improved greatly. Many have shaken off negative emotions created by the dissolution of the Czechoslovak federation.

"Tensions that existed in the past have practically disappeared," the sociologist said.

Czech sociologist Ivan Gabal agreed with his Slovak colleague.

According to Gabal, Czechs and Slovaks view the Olympic game as "a minor domestic contest, where whichever team plays better will win the sympathies of the public."

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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