KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Belarus will not be expelled from the Olympic Games despite the row over the leadership of the east European country’s national Olympic Committee.
In December the presence of Belarus at the rescheduled Games in Tokyo has been cast into doubt after the IOC dipped a rare toe into the political arena from which it traditionally stays aloof.
Questions over the country’s Olympic prospects had been raised after reports of reprisals against sportsmen and women who had joined high-profile street protests against the long rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, so-called Europe’s last dictator.
Lukaschenko, as then head of the domestic NOC, was duly barred from all Olympic sports involvement. He was subsequently replaced by his son, Victor Lukaschenko, who had been first vice-president and responsible for the NOC’s responsibilities on a daily basis.
This has not been good enough for the IOC. However sanctions will be targeted at officials and not sportsmen and women.
The IOC stance on Belarus was viewed with particular interest because of the increasing controversy over countries’ participation in the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year in the wake of concern over the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
An IOC statement about Belarus, after a meeting of the executive board, said:
The IOC . . . noted with great disappointment that the NOC had failed to fully address the first item of the IOC EB decision of 7 December 2020 that the previous leadership of the NOC of Belarus had not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member federations or the sports movement.
Therefore, the IOC EB today adopted the following provisional measures:
1. To not recognise the election of Mr Viktor Lukashenko as the new President of the NOC of Belarus and the election of Mr Dmitry Baskov as a member of the NOC Executive Board and maintain their exclusion from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games. The IOC will liaise with the NOC and the other members of the newly elected Executive Board through the NOC Secretary General.
2. To maintain the other provisional measures taken by the IOC Executive Board on 7 December 2020, as follows:
– Suspend all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus, with the exception of payments related to the athletes’ scholarships and the preparations of the Belarusian team for, and their participation in, the Olympic Games.
– Request the relevant International Federations to make sure that all eligible Belarusian athletes can take part in qualification events for the upcoming Olympic Games without any political discrimination.
– Suspend any discussions with the NOC of Belarus regarding the hosting of future IOC events.
– Request all constituents of the Olympic Movement to respect these measures in the interest of protecting Belarusian athletes’ rights and the reputation of the Olympic Movement.
3. To request the NOC of Belarus and its member federations to ensure that there is no political discrimination in the participation of the Belarusian athletes in qualification events, and in the final selection of the team of the NOC of Belarus, for all Olympic Games.
4. To not -invite or grant any accreditation to any senior Government official from the Republic of Belarus for Olympic Games.
The IOC Executive Board will continue to monitor the situation, and reserves the right to consider any further action or to remove any of these provisional measures, depending on the evolution of the situation.