Belarusian skier Darya Dolidovich flees to Poland after being banned from competing in the Olympics


Belarusian cross-country skier Darya Dolidovich poses in this photo taken in Kirovsk, Russia, in November 2021 (Sergei Dolidovich/Handout/Reuters)

Belarusian skier Daria Dolidovitch fled his home country, after being banned from participating in the Winter Olympics due to accusations over his involvement in the country’s opposition movement.

The 17-year-old cross-country skier was stripped of her International Ski Federation (FIS) code – which is required for athletes to compete in events organized by the governing body – in December. This followed a decision by the Belarusian Cross-Country Skiing Federation, according to Reuters.

Darya told Reuters in December that the ban – which prevented her from competing in the Beijing Winter Games – came after sports officials accused her of “supporting” the country’s opposition movement.

CNN has reached out to FIS, the Belarus Ski Union and the Belarusian Cross-Country Skiing Federation for comment on Dolidovich’s case.

The family flees: His trainer and his father, Sergei Dolidovich, is a seven-time Olympian who has spoken out publicly against the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and participated in street protests following the disputed August 2020 presidential election, which opposition groups say has been tainted with fraud.

Darya confirmed her family had moved to Poland in a video interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

“I could not have imagined, even in a nightmare, that I would end up leaving my country three or four months ago. I feel like tomorrow I’ll get back on the plane or the car,” the 17-year-old said.

Her father told Reuters the family had been targeted because of their political views and that his daughter had been “stripped” of her right to compete.

A bit of context: Dolidovich is one of many Belarusian athletes who have been banned from competing or forced to flee the country over the past year, due to their criticism of sports authorities or the Lukashenko regime.

Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya received a humanitarian visa from Poland in August, following her abrupt departure from the Tokyo Summer Olympics after saying team officials tried to forcibly send her home over her public criticism towards national sports authorities.


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