The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided Monday to provisionally ban Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko from all Olympic events, including the next Olympic Games.
In a statement on its website, the IOC said the current National Olympic Committee of Belarus, which Lukashenko heads, cannot join the Olympics and all other Olympic events as athletes in the country have faced political discrimination.
“The IOC has come to the conclusion that it appears that the current [Belarus] NOC leadership has not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member sports federations or the sports movement,” the IOC said.
It sanctioned Lukashenko and his son, Viktor, for discriminative behavior against Belarus athletes.
Viktor Lukashenko is the first vice president of the NOC.
The IOC’s Executive Board also decided to suspend all financial payments to the NOC, with the exception of payments related to the preparations of the Belarusian athletes for, and their participation in, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. All Olympic scholarships for Belarusian athletes will also now be paid directly to the athletes and no longer through the NOC.
Additionally, the IOC called on international federations to ensure that all eligible Belarusian athletes can compete in the qualifying events for the upcoming Olympic games without any political discrimination.
Belarus has been rocked by mass protests since President Lukashenko was re-elected to a sixth term on Aug. 9.
Both the US and EU rejected the presidential election and imposed sanctions on top Belarusian officials for their role in vote manipulation and a crackdown on protesters.
In October, the IOC launched an investigation into claims by Belarusian athletes of discrimination by their country’s authorities due to their political views.
Several athletes previously wrote to the international Olympic body calling for urgent action against the national committee.