Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko threatens legal action against IOC over ban from Olympic events

Olympic chiefs on Monday cracked down on the Belarus National Olympic Committee, headed by Lukashenko, for discriminating against its athletes for their political views.

Agence France-Presse December 08, 2020 17:56:29 IST
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko threatens legal action against IOC over ban from Olympic events

File image of Alexander Lukashenko. AFP

Belarus: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday threatened to take the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to court for banning him from Olympic events over athlete discrimination.

Olympic chiefs on Monday cracked down on the Belarus National Olympic Committee, headed by Lukashenko, for discriminating against its athletes for their political views.

Since Lukashenko's controversial re-election to a sixth term in August Belarus has been in the throes of its worst political crisis in modern history, with protesters taking to the streets and authorities cracking down hard on the opposition.

A number of prominent Belarusian athletes have supported Lukashenko's critics and demanded an end to the crackdown.

Speaking on Tuesday, Lukashenko threatened to sue IOC President Thomas Bach and other top officials.

"We need to go to court. Let Bach and the gang explain what my fault is," Lukashenko said in remarks released by his office.

"I haven't taken part in these events for 25 years and will survive in the future. But have you gathered all the countries and made a decision? Ok I will survive, but why are you involving children?".

Lukashenko's son Viktor, 45, is the first vice-president of the NOC.

In October, the IOC launched an investigation into claims by Belarusian athletes who said they were being discriminated by the country's authorities due to their political views.

A number of prominent Belarusian athletes signed a petition demanding an end to violence and new elections.

Among them was two-time Olympic basketball player Yelena Leuchanka, who in September was detained while trying to leave the country and jailed for two weeks over the protests.

The international Olympic body said on Monday that "current NOC leadership has not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination".

The IOC will also suspend "all financial payments to the NOC, with the exception of payments related to the preparations of the Belarusian athletes for, and their participation in, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games".

The IOC asked international sporting federations to "make sure that all eligible Belarusian athletes can take part in qualification events for the upcoming Olympic Games without any political discrimination".

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