Minsk is set to remain the host for the European Championships ©Getty Images

The European Cycling Union (UEC) reportedly turned down a request from Denmark to host the Track Elite European Championships, with the organisation maintaining the event will be held in Belarus despite human rights concerns.

The UEC said in March that it had been unable to move the event due to a lack of a suitable host.

UEC President Enrico Della Casa wrote to the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) saying the organisation was "legally contracted to host this event at this time and location and were unable to find another suitable host on this date."

According to Emil Rottbøll, the Moscow correspondent for Danish newspaper Berlingske, three countries had reportedly expressed an interest in replacing Belarus as host.

Apeldoorn in The Netherlands had reportedly held discussions with the UEC last year, while Lithuania allegedly came forward as an option in April.

The National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) instructed Danish Cycling Union President and UEC vice-president Henrik Jess Jensen to offer to step in as hosts.

Poul Broberg, head of public affairs at DIF, said the organisation offered to stage the event after the UEC said it could not find a replacement host.

The event has been billed as key for athletes, with competition scheduled to take place from June 23 to 27, making an important event in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"This is the most decisive thing we can do in Denmark to show how unhappy we are that the competition will be held in Minsk," Broberg was quoted as saying.

"Instead of leaving the decision to others, we are ready to do it by ourselves."

Denmark reportedly saw an offer to host the European Championships declined by the UEC ©Getty Images
Denmark reportedly saw an offer to host the European Championships declined by the UEC ©Getty Images

The UEC reportedly refused to change the location, citing challenges of organising the competition at short notice and hotel bookings having been made by athletes, teams and officials.

The BSSF has called on other cycling federations to urge the UEC to move the European Championships out of Belarus.

"The BSSF supports the proposal of the DIF and calls on the national cycling federations to listen to the DIF initiative, to send their objections to the President of the UEC Enrico Della Casa so that the tournament is moved from Belarus to another country, in this case - Denmark," said Aliaksandra Herasimenia, BSSF head and three-time Olympic medallist.

"In addition, we have to remind you that the Dutch company Libema, which manages the Apeldoorn Velodrome in the Netherlands, has been negotiating with the UEC for more than a year about moving the Championship from Belarus, but it did not work out," said Vadim Krivosheev, responsible for youth policy, physical culture and sports in the National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM).

"Finally, in April 2021, the Lithuanian Cycling Federation offered to host the tournament instead of Belarus, but this did not lead to anything either.

"Thus, there are at least three alternatives to holding the tournament in Belarus, but the UEC leadership, for reasons we do not understand, adheres to an opaque position, which raises many questions."

The UEC told insidethegames that there had been "recent incorrect press articles" regarding the European Championships, with the organisation saying it did not wish to comment further.

The organisation said the event will take place in Minsk as approved by the UEC Management Board.

Belarus saw months of protests, which were triggered by the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in August.

Lukashenko’s re-election sparked widespread protests in the country, leading to a violent Government crackdown on demonstrators, which has seen athletes jailed and allegedly tortured for their involvement.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled in December that the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCRB) had "not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their Member Federations or the sports movement."

Lukashenko and his son Viktor, who became NOCRB President earlier this year, were both banned from attending the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The IOC also told all constituents of the Olympic Movement, such as federations, "to respect these measures in the interest of protecting Belarusian athletes’ rights and the reputation of the Olympic Movement."

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), amid mounting pressure, announced in January that Minsk would no longer co-host its World Championships this year.

Belarus was removed as a co-host of the event with Latvia, with the tournament reverting to a single host.

The IIHF said the decision was taken due to security and safety concerns, but the announcement followed pressure from sponsors to move the event.

The International Modern Pentathlon Union followed the IIHF by confirming its World Championships will not take place in Minsk.