Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa has not returned to his home country since making anti-government demonstrations after he won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Feyisa agent Federico Rosa confirmed that the runner did not fly home to Ethiopia with the country’s Olympics team Monday.
“He didn’t go back to Ethiopia,” Rosa wrote in an email. “Plan for future not clear yet, we will know more in some days.”
As Feyisa crossed the finish line in second place in the men’s marathon race, he lifted his arms above his head and crossed his wrists to make an “X.” The 26-year-old made the gesture again on the podium and later explained he was protesting against the killings of the Oromo people in his home country.
“The Ethiopian government is killing my people, so I stand with all protests anywhere, as Oromo is my tribe,” Feyisa told reporters at a news conference after the race. “My relatives are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights, they are killed.”
A GoFundMe page set up to support Feyisa’s bid for asylum has raised over USD 123,000 so far.
The daring gesture that Lelisa made in Rio is the same one people have made for months in protests across the Oromia and Amhara regions.