Tokyo Olympics: Belarusian athlete forcibly brought to airport after criticism of her federation

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is ” safe “ in Japan, assured this Monday, August 2, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while the 24-year-old sprinter said she was threatened with a forced return to her country for having criticized her national federation.

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“The IOC and Tokyo-2020 have spoken [dimanche] evening directly with Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya »IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams said on Monday. “She assured us that she felt safe. She spent the night in an airport hotel » of Tokyo-Haneda. The IOC was to meet with her again on Monday in order to know her intentions and the ” to support “, added Mark Adams.

Many speculations

He did not confirm speculations the sprinter would seek asylum in the European Union. Officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are working on the case, he said, however.

The Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which revealed the matter on Sunday, said Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was considering seeking political asylum at the Austrian embassy in Tokyo. Several countries, including the Czech Republic and Poland, have said they are ready to offer him a visa and protection, the BBC also reports.

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For its part, the Japanese government “Will continue to cooperate closely with the organizations concerned and take the appropriate measures”, treating this case ” in accordance with the law “Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said on Monday, without going into further detail.

Japan’s foreign and justice ministries and local police declined comment, as did UNHCR. Several embassies of European countries in Japan requested by AFP were not immediately reachable.

“Afraid” of ending up in prison if she returned to Belarus

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said on Sunday that she was forced to suspend her participation in the Tokyo Olympics by the coach of her team, before being accompanied to the airport by officials of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee to return to her country.

A few days earlier, she had fiercely criticized the Belarusian Athletics Federation, claiming that she was forced to participate in the 4x400m relay, when she was initially supposed to run the 100m and 200m, because two other athletes had failed. not carried out a sufficient number of doping controls, according to her.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya also told online media to have ” fear “ to end up in prison if she returned to Belarus. She had asked for help from the IOC on Sunday.

This incident comes as the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko relentlessly pursues a crackdown on opponents, journalists and activists, with the hope of definitively putting down the historic protest movement of 2020 against his re-election to a fifth term.

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