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IOC suspends Belarus president Lukashenko from Olympic Games

The IOC suspended the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on Monday from all Olympic activities including the Tokyo Games next year.

State election in August widely viewed as rigged in Lukashenko's favour

Belarus has been in turmoil since President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election in August, and the International Olympic Committee has investigated complaints from athletes that they faced intimidation. (Siarhei Leskiec/Getty Images)

The IOC suspended the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on Monday from all Olympic activities including the Tokyo Games next year.

Lukashenko, who has led the Belarus Olympic Committee for 23 years, claimed a sixth presidential term after a state election in August widely viewed as rigged in his favour.

Belarus has since been in turmoil amid protests and a crackdown by security forces, and the International Olympic Committee has investigated complaints from athletes that they faced reprisals and intimidation.

IOC president Thomas Bach said after a board meeting on Monday that the Belarus Olympic body's leadership "has not appropriately protected Belarus athletes from political discrimination" within sports organizations in the country.

Belarus' status as co-host of the 2021 world championship in ice hockey is now at risk from the IOC's decision to suspend all talks with the former Soviet republic about staging events and request for all of its stakeholders to respect Monday's decision.

Bach said the International Ice Hockey Federation would discuss the Belarus hosting role in the days ahead.

Co-host Latvia has publicly distanced itself from working with Belarus since the disputed election.

The IIHF has also "initiated a procedure" against the Belarus official who sits on its ruling committee, Bach said.

Viktor Lukashenko, the president's son and first vice-president of the Belarus Olympic committee, is also provisionally suspended, Bach said.

The IOC will continue to help fund Belarus athletes preparing for upcoming Olympic Games by paying scholarship money directly to them.

Alexander Lukashenko was previously unable to attend the 2012 Olympics in London because of a European Union visa ban after a previous crackdown that followed a disputed election.

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