Two cross-country skiers excluded from races

The two Belarusian cross-country skiers Svetlana Andriyuk and Darya Dolidovish have been de facto excluded from international competitions by the authorities of their country for reasons that are still unclear.

Sergei Dolidovish, father and coach of 17-year-old Darya, spoke to the French news agency on Wednesday about a political decision.

“Nobody can explain to Svetlana and Darya why they are victims of this situation,” he said, adding that the two athletes did not take part in the 2020 demonstrations in Minsk and signed the open letter demanding free elections, as was done almost in 2000 other activists would have done.

“We are in contact with the International Ski Federation FIS and the National Olympic Committee to understand the situation,” the communications department of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told AFP.

In the past two years, several activists have been the target of reprisals by the regime of ruler Alexander Lukashenko for their actual or alleged support of the protest movement that shook Belarus in 2020.

Dolidovish: “I have never hidden my political stance”

Andriyuk, 22, “was supposed to fly to a training camp in Russia, but they literally took her off the plane and told her she wasn’t going anywhere,” Dolidovich accused. His daughter was excluded from the junior training camp of the Belarusian association and thus from all competitions.

According to her father, the 17-year-old is a victim of his own political commitment: “I have never hidden my political stance. I have expressed it in the media and in personal conversations. I have always said that the country needs change,” said he, who has since lost his job as a coach.

At the Tokyo Olympics last summer, Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya revealed that she feared being forcibly returned to her country for criticizing her athletics federation. She was forced to abandon her participation and was placed under protection before receiving a humanitarian visa from Poland. The IOC had announced in Tokyo that a disciplinary commission would investigate the case “and draw its conclusions”.


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