The European Cycling Union are facing huge pressure to move the track championships from Belarus after the German Cycling Federation said it would not take part and British Cycling Performance Director Stephen Park suggested there was “no way the UEC can continue to deliver the Track Euros in Minsk next month.”
The move comes after Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko ordered Ryanair flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius to be forced to land in Minsk in order to arrest opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his Russian girlfriend Sofia Sapega for his role in broadcasting the huge protests that erupted after the autocrat claimed to win the 2020 election.
Several countries, including Britain, have now banned flights over the country and the European Union is threatening major sanctions.
The UEC Track Elite European Championships are due to be held in Minsk between June 23-27, but now seem highly unlikely to be held in Belarus. The championships are expected to be moved rather than be cancelled because they offer vital final competition before the Tokyo Olympic Games, which begin July 23.
The BDR German Cycling Federation said the matter would be discussed at the UEC Management Board meeting in Lausanne on Thursday when they announced their athletes would not travel to Minsk.
The UEC confirmed in a note that "In light of the recent international events, the Union Européenne de Cyclisme is carefully monitoring the situation and will make a decision at the Management Board meeting on 27 May 2021 regarding the Elite Track European Championships in Minsk (Belarus) from 23 to 27 June."
According to an investigation by Cyclingtips and Emil Rottbøll, the Moscow correspondent for Danish newspaper Berlingske, Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, Ballerup in Denmark as well as Lithuania have all offered to host the European Track Championships. However, UEC President Enrico Della Casa has so far turned them down.
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