Belarusian skier Darya Dolidovich has fled the country with her family after being barred from competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics allegedly for joining the country’s opposition movement.
The 17-year-old cross country skier and her family have now relocated to Poland, where she hopes to continue training.
Dolidovich’s International Ski Federation (FIS) code, a number required for athletes to participate in competitions run by the FIS, was deactivated by the Belarus Ski Union in December.
While the FIS has reached out to the Belarusian ski officials requesting the reason for change of status, they have not yet received a response.
Dolidovich’s coach and father, Sergei Dolidovich, believes she was precluded from competing for participating in street protests against Belarsiuan President Alexander Lukashenko over the results of his disputed 2020 re-election.
“Darya has been stripped of her right to take part in competitions,” Sergei Dolidovich, a seven-time Olympian, told Reuters. “I don’t see the possibility of her continuing her career in Belarus.”
“I couldn’t have imagined, even in a nightmare, that I would end up leaving my country three, four months ago. It feels like tomorrow I’ll take the plane or car back,” Darya Dolidovich told Reuters in a video call.
In the last year, several Belarusian athletes have been banned from competing, jailed, or kicked off national teams for voicing their opposition to sports authorities or Lukashenko’s regime.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was taken to an airport against her wishes by team officials to board a flight back home after she complained about the country’s coaches in an Instagram video.
Tsimanouskaya has since been granted asylum in Poland.