Fate of Belarusian skier banned over political views in hands of ski body, IOC says

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Belarusian cross-country skier Darya Dolidovich poses in this handout picture taken in Kirovsk, Russia

BEIJING – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday it was up to the International Ski Federation (FIS) to decide whether to take action in the case of a Belarusian cross-country skier who was barred from competition over what her family said were its political views.

Belarusian cross-country skier Darya Dolidovich told Reuters on Tuesday that she and her family had left Belarus because of fears of reprisals by authorities after she was banned from competition, a move her family saw as retribution for their support of the political opposition.

Darya Dolidovich is the daughter of Sergei Dolidovich, a seven-time Olympic cross-country skier who took part in street protests against the 2020 re-election of leader Alexander Lukashenko that opponents said was fraudulent.

Lukashenko has denied rigging the vote.

“It was initially a disciplinary action between the national federation and the athlete for some breach,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in a briefing at the Beijing Games.

“If FIS want to look into it further then they obviously will do. We’ve reiterated our call to the NOC and all IFs (international federations) to make sure that Belarusian athletes can compete safely without any discrimination.”

In December, the Belarus Ski Union deactivated Dolidovich’s FIS code, an individual identifying number required for athletes to take part in competitions run by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

In a letter seen by Reuters, the Belarus Ski Union told Dolidovich’s coaching staff it had deactivated her FIS code in response to a decision by the Belarus Cross-Country Skiing Federation. It did not say on what basis that decision was made.

Several Belarusian athletes have been jailed or kicked off national teams for voicing opposition views and joining protests that erupted in the wake of the 2020 election.

The repression of Belarusian athletes, including the attempt to forcibly repatriate sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya during the Tokyo Olympics last year, has drawn international condemnation.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)