Promising skier flees Belarus after being banned for his political views – Reuters

A promising cross-country skier and her family fled Belarus days for the Beijing Winter Olympics after being barred from competing over her family’s political views, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Daria Dolidovich, 17, had her International Ski Federation (FIS) code deactivated by the Belarus Ski Union in December as part of the Belarus Cross-Country Federation’s decision, the report said. athlete and his father to Reuters.

Another Belarusian cross-country skier, Svetlana Andryuk, has also been stripped of her FIS code, accused of supporting the country’s opposition.

“Daria was deprived of her right to participate in competitions,” Dolidovich’s father, Sergei, told Reuters.

Sergei Dolidovich, a seven-time Olympian and coach, had taken part in protests against the 2020 re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, widely seen as fraudulent.

He said the family had fled to Poland, where the young skier hopes to continue training, fearing he could be jailed for staging a protest and shouting opposition slogans.

“I am upset, of course. It would have been easier to stay a few months and finish school,” Reuters quoted Dolidovich as saying.

“I don’t see the possibility of her continuing her career in Belarus,” Sergei Dolidovich told Reuters.

Dolidovich and Andryuk are two of many Belarusian athletes to be expelled from national teams or even imprisoned for taking part in the 2020 election protests and voicing opposition views.

In 2021, Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was granted a Polish humanitarian visa after she was nearly forcibly returned to her home country for criticizing her coaches during the Tokyo Olympics.

The United States imposed visa restrictions on several Belarusians last week, citing Timanovskaya’s case and similar activity against suspected dissidents outside Belarus.

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