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European Track Championships cancelled in Belarus following plane grounding in Minsk

Maria Giulia Confalonieri of Italy competes in the final points race during the European Track Cycling Championships in Omnisport Apeldoorn the Netherlands on October 19 2019
Maria Giulia Confalonieri of Italy competes in the final points race during the European Track Cycling Championships in Omnisport Apeldoorn the Netherlands on October 19 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The UEC European Track Championships, scheduled for June 23-27, will not take place in Minsk, Belarus, the UEC Management Board has announced.

The move to cancel the event comes after widespread pressure to do so following an international incident last week which saw a Ryanair flight between Greece and Lithuania forced to land in Minsk following a fake bomb threat.

The ruse saw opposition journalist Roman Protasevch and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega arrested on the orders of the country's president Alexander Lukashenko.

Several countries, including the Great Britain, have banned flights from passing over the country, while Germany and the Netherlands have since pulled out of the European Track Championships.

"We have recently been monitoring the situation with the Belarus Cycling Federation which has now developed into an international debate and today during the Management Board meeting, we have decided to cancel the event in Minsk," said UEC president Enrico Della Casa.

"I would like to thank the Belarus Cycling Federation and its President and Management Board member, Natallia Tsylinskaya, who has worked with great dedication to help prepare the event and for the important initiatives planned to develop the sport of cycling in Belarus with a programme of additional activities during the European Championships.

"We are already working on finding an alternative solution to enable the riders from our 50 National Federations to compete in this season’s continental event."

An investigation by Cyclingtips and Emil Rottbøll earlier this month – published before the plane grounding and arrest – found that Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, Ballerup in Denmark and Lithuania had all offered to host the event following the decision taken by various sporting events and federations to disassociate themselves from Belarus.

All requests were all turned down by the UEC. It's unclear at the moment where the event might now be held.