A Belarusian athlete refused to return to her home Sunday and has sought asylum in Poland, multiple sources reported.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a 24-year-old sprinter, refused to board her flight home and was seen entering Poland’s embassy in Japan on Monday, Reuters reported.
“Poland is ready to help Kryscina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete ordered by the Lukashenka regime to return from Olympic Games to Minsk.” Polish foreign ministry official Marcin Przydacz said in a tweet.
“She was offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she chooses,” Przydacz said.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya was forced by the regime to leave the @Olympics in Tokyo & fly to Belarus after criticizing Belarus’ management of the national team during the games. She’s afraid to come back to Minsk. No athlete should be forced this way. pic.twitter.com/1Ros5scrJG
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) August 1, 2021
Tsimanouskaya arrived at the embassy at 5 p.m. local time with her luggage and was met by two women carrying a flag that’s recognized as a symbol of opposition in Belarus, Reuters reported. Her husband, Arseni Zhdanevich, has reportedly arrived in Ukraine, a Ukrainian interior ministry member told Reuters. It is unclear if he is traveling to see his wife in Poland.
Tsimanouskaya was slated to compete in the women’s 200-meter race on Monday before she was told to board a flight home, Reuters reported. The Belarusian head coach arrived at her room at the Olympic Village on Sunday and told her she needed to travel home.
“The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me,” she told Reuters via telegram. “At 5 (pm) they came my room and told me to pack and they took me to the airport,” she said.
Tsimanouskaya refused to board the plane and told Reuters, “I will not return to Belarus.”
She was pulled from the Games after doctors advised her coaches about the athlete’s “emotional, psychological state,” the Belarusian Olympic Committee said according to Reuters. Yuri Miosevich, Belarus Athletics’ head coach, told Belarusian state TV that he “could see there was something wrong with her…She either secluded herself or didn’t want to talk.”
Japanese officials assured that Tsimanouskaya remained safe while in Tokyo, according to Reuters. “Japan is coordinating with relevant parties and continue to take appropriate action, ” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said in a statement.
Olympic officials will continue to talk with Tsimanouskaya and have asked for a full report from the Belarus Olympic Committee, International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams said, reported by Reuters.
The IOC refused to recognize Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko ’s son Viktor when he was elected to run the country’s Olympic Committee Marck, and both were banned from attending the Games, according to Reuters.
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