Feyisa Lilesa made an anti-Government gesture after winning silver in Rio ©Getty Images

Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa has been invited to return to Ethiopia after two years of living in exile following his anti-Government gesture at the conclusion of the marathon race at Rio 2016.

Lilesa finished second behind Kenyan favourite Eliud Kipchoge in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and proceeded to cross his arms in a gesture used to oppose the Government’s police crackdowns on protests in his home region of Oromo.

He then continued his peaceful protest at a post-race press conference.

The 28-year-old has been living in the United States since the end of the Games in the Brazilian city after claiming he would be "killed" if he went back to Ethiopia.

But the Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC) and the country's athletics federation have now sent a formal invitation to Lilesa to return home, insisting he will be given a hero's welcome.

They have previously made similar claims, which were disputed by Lilesa.

It is not yet clear whether Lilesa has accepted the invitation, with reports claiming he could be back in Ethiopia with his wife and children - who travelled to be with him in the US in February of last year - in the next few weeks.

Feyisa Lilesa has been officially asked to return to Ethiopia ©Getty Images
Feyisa Lilesa has been officially asked to return to Ethiopia ©Getty Images

The political situation in Ethiopia has improved since Lilesa refused to return home after Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in April.

Ahmed, who is also an ethnic Oromo, has introduced a series of reforms since taking over from Hailemariam Desalegn.

He has released prisoners and has also invited foreign-based opposition groups back home.

"He [Lilesa] can teach his exemplary ways to other athletes and teach strength to our youngsters," EOC President Ashebir Woldegiorgis told VOA Amharic.

"That's the main call, so he can come back to participate in the sport he loves and pass it on by running and by advising to elevate Ethiopia’s sport."