Belarus stripped of hosting European track cycling championships amid jet diversion uproar

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Belarus was stripped of hosting next month's European track cycling championships on Thursday amid international outrage after a passenger jet was diverted to Minsk so a dissident journalist could be arrested.

The European Cycling Union cited the "current international situation" for canceling the event in Minsk scheduled from June 23-27. Organizers are looking for a replacement venue.

European Union leaders called the airplane incident a state-sponsored hijacking. Belarus has been in turmoil since authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory last August in a disputed presidential election.

The EU advised member countries' airlines this week to avoid Belarus airspace and barred planes from Belarus into their airports and airspace.

A Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was told by flight controllers, citing a bomb threat, to land in Minsk on Sunday. A passenger, 26-year-old activist Raman Pratasevich, was taken from the plane.

Cycling officials said they are "working on finding an alternative solution" to stage the track championships. One consideration is Lithuania after Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė made an offer on Twitter to host the event.