Alexander Lukashenko

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko handed over the reins of the country’s Olympic committee to his son on Friday, days after the IOC hinted it might ban its flag from the Tokyo Games.

Lukashenko, 67, who had headed Belarus’ National Olympic Committee (NOC) since 1967, promised that he would not be running for another term.

He added that his son Viktor, who was vice-president of the NOC, would be removed from his role of presidential adviser for national security once he was formally elected.

“If it suits you, I give you my eldest son and I promise you that there will be no theft, corruption, or embezzlement of money,” Lukashenko said in a video released by his press service.

The move comes after December’s decision by the global governing body IOC to ban both Lukashenkos from Olympic events over the NOC’s targeting of athletes for their political views.

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This week, IOC President Thomas Bach raised the possibility of the Belarusian flag being banned from this summer’s Games as punishment.

Lukashenko’s disputed re-election to a sixth term in August led to the most serious political crisis in Belarus’ modern history, with protesters taking to the streets and authorities cracking down on the opposition.

A number of prominent Belarusian athletes have supported Lukashenko’s critics and demanded an end to the crackdown.

The turmoil has also led to Belarus being stripped of the this year’s ice hockey world championship.

[AFP]

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