Belarusian Olympic sprinter seeks refuge in Japan, fearing prison at home – .

Belarusian Olympic sprinter seeks refuge in Japan, fearing prison at home – .

“We don’t even know whether the police will take care of this or not,” Isozaki said.

Reuters news agency said one of its photographers saw Ms Timanovskaya with police at the airport and said, “I think I’m safe.”

Ms. Timanovskaya, 24, was scheduled to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time this summer in the 200-meter sprint. But she said she was told she would be competing in the 4 × 400-meter relay race because some of the team did not pass enough doping tests to qualify for the event.

“I am scandalized! She told from the airport. “After all, we came to the Olympics, and it is against all the rules to declare ourselves for a distance event that we have never competed in our life. It is a total disrespect for the athletes, ”she said, calling the situation“ complete chaos ”.

She told that on Sunday her coaches and a representative from the national team came to her room and told her to pack her bags. She said she was told if she did not return she would lose her position with the national team, be deprived of a job and face “possibly other consequences”. She said she was told the decision was not made by the sports federation or the sports ministry, “but at a higher level”.

“They said I had to be knocked out of the Olympics and go home because I’m interfering with the performance of the team,” she told

Belarus has been shocked by the protests that followed the disputed presidential elections last August. Since then, President Lukashenko has indicated he will not tolerate any dissent, imprisoning opposition politicians, critics, journalists and a number of athletes who signed a petition in October condemning the use of violence by his government, according to the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation.


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