ATHLETICS NEWS - Olympic chiefs on Monday cracked down on the Belarus National Olympic Committee, headed by President Alexander Lukashenko, for discriminating against its athletes for their political views.
Protesters have taken to the streets of Belarusian cities since Lukashenko claimed a sixth term with 80 percent of the vote in a presidential election on August 9.
Since the election, riot police have detained thousands of protesters, some of whom have reported torture and abuse in custody, prompting international condemnation and proposed EU sanctions.
Several people have died in the crackdown.
A number of prominent Belarusian athletes signed a petition demanding an end to violence and new elections, including two-time Olympic basketball player Yelena Leuchanka, who was detained at Minsk airport in September while trying to leave the country and jailed for 15 days over the protests.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, speaking after an executive board meeting in Lausanne on Monday, said that "the current NOC leadership has not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member sports federations or the sports movement".
"This is contrary to the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter, and therefore seriously affects the reputation of the Olympic Movement."
As a result, the IOC decided to exclude the currently elected members of the Belarus NOC executive board, including President Lukashenko, from all IOC events and activities, including the Olympic Games.
Furthermore, the IOC suspended "all financial payments to the NOC of Belarus, with the exception of payments related to the preparations of the Belarusian athletes for, and their participation in, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022".
The IOC asked international sporting federations to "make sure that all eligible Belarusian athletes can take part in qualification events for the upcoming Olympic Games without any political discrimination".