The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to suspend the membership the Belarusian National Olympic Committee (NOC), headed by Alexander Lukashenko, thus banning the Belarusian National Olympic from taking part in the Olympic Games and other events of the organization, announced the IOC's Associate Director in the Strategic Communications Department Christian Klaue.
Lukashenko's son Viktor, who is the first vice-president of the NOC, will also be banned from visiting the Olympic Games. "The IOC has come to the conclusion that the current leadership of Belarus, apparently, did not protect Belarusian athletes sufficiently from political discrimination within the NOC," the head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said in this regard. According to him, the actions of Belarusian authorities contradict the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter and therefore causes serious damage to the Olympic movement.
As an additional sanction measure against Belarusian sports officials, the IOC decided to temporarily freeze all payments to the NOC of Belarus, transferring the payments necessary to prepare for the Olympic Games directly to athletes.
At the same time, Bach noted that any discussions with the NOC regarding future IOC events in the country should be suspended. It was originally planned that Belarus would be one of the host countries of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship.
In August, more than 1,500 Belarusian athletes signed an open letter demanding to stop the violence in the country and hold new and fair elections.
Because of the refusal to withdraw their signatures under this document, the freestyle world champion Alexandra Romanovskaya, runner Svetlana Kudelich and other famous athletes and coaches were dismissed or discriminated against. Some of them, for example, world-class basketball player Elena Levchenko and decathlete Andrey Kravchenko were detained and convicted.
On October 5, more than two dozen Belarusian athletes, who are members of the Free Association of Belarusian Athletes, sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee saying that the NOC of Belarus violated the principles of the Olympic Charter and that many Belarusian athletes were "subjected to torture, beatings and arrests."
Athletes who "do not accept the policy of the official authorities and oppose violence" are under psychological pressure from the NOC and the Belarusian Ministry of Sport, the authors of the letter said. Such athletes are singled out, dismissed from their jobs, suspended from competitions, excluded from national teams and using other forms of psychological and individual violence, the document said. Among other things, the athletes called on the IOC not to ignore the situation in the country and "to reach out to all athletes and Belarusian people of all decent."
At the end of November, at the initiative of the NOC of Belarus, officials loyal to Lukashenko regime signed an open letter calling for peace and harmony in the republic and asking international sports organizations not to interfere in the preparation of Belarusian athletes for the Olympics.