Olympic marathon medallist Feyisa Lilesa won't return to Ethiopia

Despite assurances that he wouldn't be punished for his Rio protest, athlete says he will not return.

Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa will not return to Ethiopia, despite assurances that he will not be punished for his Rio protest over political repression in his country.

Lilesa's agent says the runner faces arrest and persecution.

Authorities in Addis Abba insist no action will be taken against him and he'll be given a hero's welcome.

Supporters of Feyisa Lelia have raised $80,000 dollars for him on the first day of their financial appeal for the athlete.

Lelisa's agent, Federico Rosa, says he's not sure what the athlete will do next.

He denies his client is seeking a lucrative contract to represent a Gulf state.

Lelisa was not on the Olympic team's aircraft that landed in Ethiopia on Monday night.

He's indicated he will seek asylum in Brazil or the United States.