International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge says his organization respects the decision of the British Home Office to deny London 2012 Olympic Games accreditation to Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka.
Lukashenka is banned from travel to the European Union and had his assets frozen after a disputed 2010 presidential vote, when he was accused of overseeing a brutal crackdown on opposition forces, arresting hundreds of people including presidential candidates.
“Mr. Lukashenka has been denied entry to the UK because he is on a blacklist from the EU on travel to the United Kingdom, and we respect that,” Rogge said in his final news conference before Friday’s opening ceremony.
The head of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, blasted the move as politics’ interfering in sport. “The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games has not granted an accreditation pass to Aliaksandr Lukashenka, President of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus. Are sports really beyond politics? And what about Olympic values and traditions? Every school child knows that in ancient Greece all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the games were finished,” Zhukov posted to his Twitter.
Lukashenka sent off his Olympic team to London having set them a target of 25 medals including five golds.