August 1 – Belarus have been ordered to play their home World Cup qualifying matches against both Belgium and Wales on neutral territory in Russia because of travel sanctions against the country.
On Saturday, UEFA said that the Russian city of Kazan will stage the double header in September. Belorussian clubs have been forced to play their home games in European competitions abroad as well, with matches shifted to both Armenia and Serbia.
The country became even more of an outcast after a commercial passenger flight was diverted to Minsk and journalist Roman Protasevich was detained before the plane was allowed to resume its flight.
Belarus has seen a wave of mass protests after authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a disputed presidential election by a landslide last summer. The country was also one of a handful to continue its domestic league during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lukashenko was barred from attending the Tokyo Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He became the chairman of the Belarus Olympic Committee in the 90’s, but earlier this year the IOC rejected his reelection. On Sunday, Belarussian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a flight home when she was ‘forcibly’ escorted to Haneda Airport after criticising her coaches. She sought police protection at the airport.
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