Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday accused judges of unfairly "throwing out" skier Anton Kushnir from the Olympic final, after rousing the country`s diplomats the night before to get them to complain to the IOC.
Kushnir, the Belarusian gold medalist at the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, shockingly failed to qualify in the freestyle aerials final competition Saturday. His score was just 0.45 points behind the last of the top six competitors, Mischa Gasser of Switzerland.
Speaking to journalists while casting a ballot in municipal elections in Minsk Sunday, Lukashenko accused the Russian, Chinese and Swiss judges of deciding in favour of skiers from their native countries and not letting the most capable competitor through.
"They simply threw him out of the competition," Lukashenko said. "They understood that if they were to let him into the final, it would be the end of it for everyone."
"This is a complete disgrace," added Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader who has ruled Belarus since 1994.
"I had to rouse the foreign ministry at night in an emergency, activate the embassy in Korea, send an immediate government telegramme to (IOC President Thomas) Bach."
"I told him everything that I think, in softer terms," Lukashenko fumed, adding that he might go to an IOC session soon to air his grievances.
Kushnir, 33, is competing in his fourth Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he was expecting to defend his champion title.
Instead the aerials final Sunday saw Ukrainian Oleksandr Abramenko win the gold, while China`s Jia Zongyang took the silver medal and an Olympic athlete from Russia Ilia Burov secured the bronze.