Cycling-Germany pulls out of European championships, wants Minsk event moved

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany have pulled out of next month's European track championships to be held in Minsk and have asked for an "alternative solution" because of the situation in Belarus, the country's cycling federation said on Tuesday.

Belarus scrambled a warplane to force a passenger plane to land in the capital Minsk and arrested a dissident journalist who was on board on Sunday, drawing criticism from the European Union and the United States for an act denounced by Western countries as "state piracy".

Separately, Minsk airport in Belarus on Monday suspended boarding of a German Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and searched the plane, saying it had received a warning about a possible terrorist act that had not been confirmed.

"The German cycling federation (BDR), following the incidents on the weekend, has contacted the European Cycling Union (UEC) and made it clear that under the circumstances a participation of the German track cycling national team at the European championships in Minsk/Belarus (June 23-27) is not possible, and pushed for an alternative solution," the federation said in a statement.

"The UEC also views this situation very critically and will discuss it on Thursday at the meeting of the management board in Lausanne and take a decision."

Minsk had originally been supposed to co-host the Ice Hockey World Championship with Riga this month but was stripped of the right to do so after a crackdown on anti-government protesters following a contested presidential election last August and due to the coronavirus pandemic.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Maria Vasilyeva; Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Alex Richardson)