February 18, 2018 / 11:41 AM / 4 months ago

Belarus president blasts freestyle skiing judges after Kushnir eliminated

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has complained to the president of the International Olympic Committee over defending freestyle skiing champion Anton Kushnir’s failure to qualify for the men’s aerials final, saying the judging was unfair.

Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Men's Aerials Qualifications - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 17, 2018 - Anton Kushnir of Belarus reacts. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Kushnir, competing in his fourth Olympics, was hoping to defend his title and continue Belarus’s dominance of the sport, but on Saturday night the Sochi gold medallist fell just short of the score needed to qualify.

Lukashenko, who is an avid sports fan and head of the east European country’s national Olympics committee, said he had lodged a formal complaint with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the judges’ decision.

“They simply threw the main competitor out of the final,” Lukashenko told journalists.

“I had to raise the alarm with the foreign ministry ... to send a government telegram to (IOC President Thomas) Bach. I told him everything I think,” he said.

A former collective farm manager, Lukashenko has run Belarus along Soviet-style command lines since 1994.

Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Toby Chopra

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