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Sports of the Lukashenko Regime at the Paris Olympic Games

Athletes at the March in Minsk 2020
Athletes at the March in Minsk 2020. Source:

It is crucial to address the issue of double discrimination against Belarusian independent athletes, according to the stance of the National Anti-Crisis Management regarding the participation of Belarusians in the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

Presently, Belarusian free athletes face dual discrimination due to inconsistent policies within the international sports community. On one hand, they are discriminated against by the Lukashenko regime for their opposition to violence and war, resulting in their exclusion from national teams, terminations, blacklisting, detentions, or even being compelled to leave Belarus. On the other hand, Belarusian independent athletes are excluded from international sports by the federations themselves due to the aggression launched by Russia against Ukraine with the support of the Lukashenko regime.

Since 2020, the Lukashenko regime has carried out unprecedented repression against athletes. Over 136 Belarusian sports representatives have been unlawfully targeted for their civic activities, leading to terminations, detentions, and blacklisting. Currently, more than 20 Belarusian athletes and sports professionals are officially recognized as political prisoners. SOS.BY has been labeled as an extremist organization by the Belarusian KGB. Athletes who have spoken out against the war have been subjected to a separate wave of repression.

On December 8, 2023, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to allow athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris under strict conditions. One of the conditions introduced is that athletes and service personnel with contracts with the Russian or Belarusian military or law enforcement agencies will not be granted participation in the competitions.

However, the IOC's position was only advisory for international federations. As a result, the specialized federations have the final say on admitting Belarusian athletes to the qualifying competitions. Due to the varying approaches taken by international federations, Belarusian sports find themselves in a situation where independent athletes have been excluded from participating in competitions, while athletes affiliated with the Lukashenko regime have been admitted to the 2024 Olympic Games.

The NAM team has prepared justifications and submitted requests to the IOC and relevant international federations to conduct thorough verification of at least four athletes from the Lukashenko regime who have qualified for the Olympic Games and are associated with military and security forces. We have been in contact with representatives from the International Athletics Federation, the International Swimming Federation, the International Federation of Greco-Roman Wrestling, Freestyle Wrestling, and Women's Wrestling, as well as the national federations of Poland for tennis, football, athletics, and judo. We have also engaged with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Sports of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, France, the United States, and Norway. Additionally, specific efforts are being made within the framework of the Commission of the Ministry of Sports of Poland regarding the admission of athletes with Belarusian and Russian passports.

The National Anti-Crisis Management will continue to collaborate with partner countries, federations, and the IOC to bring about change regarding Belarusian athletes. We express our gratitude to the athletes who contribute to our efforts and provide information for subsequent verification, as well as those who assist in addressing the issue of double discrimination against Belarusian athletes. We extend special thanks to the journalists, including the editorial team of Tribuna, for providing documents that confirm the athletes' affiliation with the military and security forces of the Lukashenko regime.



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