Herasimenia: Belarusian team may have to participate in Olympics under neutral flag

Аlyaksandra Herasimenia. 21 October 2020. photo: Yana Prakopchyk / Belsat

Initiating criminal cases against the leadership of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) might result in introducing measures affecting Belarusian athletes during the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, BFSS head and prominent Belarusian swimmer Alyaksandra Herasimenia said on Instagram.

According to the three-time Olympic medalist, the recent steps taken by the National Olympic Committee of Belarus (NOC) as well as new criminal cases could play a ‘big role’.

“It is even likely that the NOC will be withdrawn from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). I think that our athletes will be taking part in the Olympics under a neutral flag,” Herasimenia said.

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In turn, BFSS executive director Alyaksandr Apeykin said that the Belarusian authorities ‘had fired another shot in their own foot’. They launched criminal proceedings not against two individuals but against the BFSS, a body which is recognised as a subject of international sports law and is a member of the Olympic movement, he stressed.

The major task of the foundation is to shield the athletes from ‘the absurdity which is currently going on in Belarusian sports’, Apeykin added.

As reported earlier, the Belarusian authorities started criminal prosecution of BSSF leaders Alyaksandra Herasimenia and Alyaksandr Apeykin over the foundation’s harshly criticising the Lukashenka regime. They accuse the two emigre athletes of ‘spreading deliberately false information about the course and results of the election campaign, about events in the social, economic, political, cultural spheres of the society’s life’.

The Belarusian Investigative committee claims that Herasimenia’s and Apeykin’s activity led to ‘inflicting significant reputational and financial damage on the state, tearing down the country’s prestige on the international and political arena, discrediting the leadership of both the sports sector and the state’. According to the committee, a number of major sports events were moved from Belarus under the pressure of BSSF members.

Herasimenia and Apeykin were charged withcalls for actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus which were made through media outlets or the global computer network Internet’ (Part 3 of Article 361 of the Criminal Code).

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