Friday, July 19, 2024

Belarus: Cross-country skiers denied competitions, political punishment according to a relative

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Virginia Whitehead
Virginia Whitehead
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Two young Belarusian figure skaters, Daria Dolidovich and Svyatlana Andriuk, were de facto banned from participating in international competitions by the authorities of their country, and Daria’s father was accused on Wednesday of denouncing a political decision.

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Daria Dolidovich and Svyatlana Andriuk saw their FIS code, which allows them to participate in international competitions, to be deactivated by the Belarusian Ski Federation, Sergei Dolidovich, the father and coach of 17-year-old Daria, told AFP.

“No one can explain to Svyatlana and Daria why they are victims,” he says, explaining that the young girls did not take part in the historic 2020 demonstrations in Belarus, nor did they sign the open letter calling for free elections, as nearly 2,000 other athletes do.

“We are in contact with the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the (Belarus) National Olympic Committee in order to understand the situation,” said the IOC’s communications service, which first spoke about the issue.

Several athletes have been targeted over the past two years with retaliation against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko for their support, real or suspected, of the protest movement that rocked Belarus in 2020.

Dolidovich accused Svyatlana Andriuk, 22, “You were supposed to travel to Russia for a training camp and then take part in the World Cup in Finland, but they literally took him off the plane and told him it wasn’t going anywhere.”

Daria, she was excluded from the training camp of the juniors of the Belarusian Federation, and, accordingly, from any competition.

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According to her father, the girl is a victim of her political commitment: “I have never hidden my political position. I expressed it in the media and in personal conversations. I have always said that the country needs to change,” he says, explaining that it became redundant in the spring.

“I want to play sports, I am training now. I wanted to be selected for the European Youth Olympic Days to be held in Finland. Of course, I am disappointed,” said Daria, according to her father’s comments.

“I really want to train and compete, maybe I will be successful one way or another. But I don’t want to compete for this country in the future.”

Sergei Dolidovich, for his part, criticizes the “ridiculous” situation. “We live and train at our own expense, we do not ask for anything, and now we are deprived of the opportunity to compete,” he says, adding that his requests for explanations from the Belarusian federation were not answered.

The second skater, Svyatlana Andriuk, was not immediately available.

At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Belarusian athlete Kristina Tsimanoskaya, 24, revealed fears she would be forcibly returned home for criticizing the athletics federation.

She was forced to terminate her participation, and was placed under protection before receiving a humanitarian visa granted by Poland.

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