Olympics: Belarus denies boycott rumours

Updated: Jul 27, 2012, 10:13 AM IST

Minsk: Belarus has no plans to boycott the Olympics after President Alexander Lukashenko was refused entry to Britain, the Belarusian minister for sports and tourism said.

Lukashenko was denied accreditation because of the flawed presidential elections of 2010, when he was accused of overseeing a brutal crackdown on opposition forces and arresting hundreds of people including presidential candidates, the British embassy in Belarus said.

Lukashenko is also head of Belarus` Olympic Committee and visited the last Olympics in Beijing, but the London Games do not give him an exemption from an existing European Union travel ban, the embassy said.

"The planned work to prepare for taking part in the Games is continuing," Sports and Tourism Minister Vladimir Nestrerovich said Thursday when asked about the rumoured boycott plans.

"There`s absolutely no desire to waste energy on anything not connected to the main task," he said.

The Olympics start in London Friday, July 27, and run until Aug 12.

Lukashenko sent off his Olympic team to London earlier this month, setting them a target of 25 medals including five golds.

Lukashenko, labelled by the US as Europe`s last dictator, said earlier this month that he thought the games were "politicized".

IANS