During its virtual meeting today, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) decided to strengthen its investigation into the compliance of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the Republic of Belarus with the Olympic Charter.
The IOC EB took note of the various worrying reports through individual athlete letters and the media on the possible politically motivated interference by the NOC or its member federations.
The IOC acted on this information and, on 26 September 2020, sent a letter to the President of the NOC asking for confirmation that Belarusian athletes will be able to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 despite any views that they express during these difficult times.
The NOC answered that “the selection process of athletes for the upcoming Olympic Games will be based strictly on the athletes’ performance and results in major sports events”.
In addition, on 1 October 2020, the IOC contacted the NOC again to enquire about the specific case of the two-time Olympian and basketball player Yelena Leuchanka.
The NOC stated that she has not been a member of the national team since the beginning of 2018. She has not applied to the NOC for any support since then but, in the event of any request or application, the NOC said that it is ready to consider them. The NOC also responded that she was sentenced to 15 days in prison, in accordance with the national legislation of the country.
The IOC has subsequently received various other individual athlete complaints relating to undue politically motivated pressure exerted on the athlete community by the NOC or its member federations.
The IOC is a civil, non-governmental organisation, and its mandate is limited to sport. It has neither the mandate nor the capability to change laws or political systems, including the laws of a sovereign country, and will therefore not comment on the political developments in any country.
But it takes very seriously its mandate to ensure that the NOC of a country respects the Olympic Charter, and that its athletes enjoy all the rights in relation to sport and in compliance with the Olympic Charter. That means, in particular, that they are not discriminated against for their political views.
Therefore, based on the new information received, the IOC Executive Board decided to continue and strengthen the investigation to determine whether the NOC is fulfilling its obligations towards its athletes as per the Olympic Charter.
As part of this procedure, the IOC will investigate whether the funds provided to the NOC by the IOC have been directed towards their approved and intended recipients, notably the Olympic scholarship-holders preparing for Tokyo and Beijing, without any discrimination.