Belarusian sprinter says she was taken to airport but will not return home – .

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Belarusian sprinter says she was taken to airport but will not return home – .


TOKYO – A Belarusian sprinter has said she plans to avoid flying home from Tokyo after being taken to the airport against her will on Sunday over her complaints about national coaches at the Olympics.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who was due to compete in the women’s 200-meters on Monday, told Reuters that she had requested protection from Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport so that she did not have to board the flight.

“I will not be returning to Belarus,” she told Reuters in a message via Telegram.

tsimanouskaya, 24, said coaching staff came to his room on Sunday and told him to pack his bags. She said she was taken to the airport by representatives of the Belarusian Olympic team.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that the coaches decided to remove Tsimanouskaya from the Games on the advice of doctors regarding his “emotional and psychological state”. The committee did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

The International Olympic Committee said it spoke to Tsimanouskaya and that she was accompanied by a Tokyo 2020 organizer at the airport.

“She told us she felt safe,” the IOC said in a tweet. He added that the IOC and Tokyo 2020 would continue their conversations with Tsimanouskaya and the authorities “to determine the next steps in the coming days”.

Earlier, a Reuters photographer saw the athlete standing next to police at the airport. “I think I am safe,” Tsimanouskaya said. “I’m with the police. “

In a video posted earlier on Telegram by the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, Tsimanouskaya asked the IOC to get involved in his case.

A source at the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which supports athletes jailed or sidelined for their political views, said Tsimanouskaya planned to seek asylum in Germany or Austria on Monday.

Belarus, a former Soviet state, is closely ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko. In power since 1994, he faced a wave of protests last year, to which some athletes joined.

“NEGLIGENCE” OF COACHES

Tsimanouskaya made the women’s 100-meter playoff on Friday and was scheduled to make the 200-meter playoff on Monday, as well as the 4 × 400-meter relay on Thursday.

She said she was taken off the squad due “to the fact that I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches”.

Tsimanouskaya had complained on Instagram about being entered in the 4 × 400m relay after some team members were found ineligible to compete in the Olympics because they had not undergone a sufficient number of doping tests .

“Some of our girls didn’t fly here to participate in the 4 × 400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters from the airport.

“And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I have spoken about it publicly. The head coach came to me and told me there was an order from above to pull me out. “

Tsimanouskaya added that she contacted members of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to pick her up at the airport.

Belarusian opposition leader in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, urged the IOC to take up the athlete’s case.

“Grateful to the #CIO for the quick reaction to the situation with Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya. She has the right to international protection and to continue participating in @Olympics, ”Tsikhanouskaya tweeted.

“It is also crucial to investigate the violations of the rights of athletes by the Belarusian NOC. “

IMPRISONED ATHLETES

Lukashenko faced massive street protests last year against what his opponents called rigged elections and ordered a violent crackdown on protesters. Lukashenko denies the allegations of electoral fraud.

Unusually in a country where elite athletes often depend on government funding, some prominent Belarusian athletes have joined the protests. Several were imprisoned, including Olympic basketball player Yelena Leuchanka and decathlete Andrei Krauchanka.

Others have lost their jobs in the state or have been kicked out of national teams for supporting the opposition.

During the Cold War, dozens of sportsmen and cultural figures defected from the Soviet Union and its satellite states in competitions or on tours abroad. But the freedom to travel that came with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 saw the need for such dramatic acts diminish.

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