Belarus Olympics: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refuses to fly home
A Belarusian Olympic athlete has been taken to the airport in Tokyo to fly home after publicly complaining about the national team.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was due to compete in the women’s 200m event on Monday.
But after posting a video complaining about being entered into another race at short notice, she says she was told to pack and taken to the airport.
She has now called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to intervene.
“They are trying to get me out of the country without my permission,” she said in a video posted on the Telegram channel of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF), a group that supports athletes jailed or sidelined for their political views.
“I am asking the IOC to get involved.”
In a short statement the IOC said it had seen media reports about the sprinter and had asked Belarus’s National Olympic Committee for clarification.
According to Belarus journalist Tadeusz Giczan, the flight has taken off without the sprinter on board. She is now with police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
Earlier Ms Tsimanouskaya told radio station European Radio for Belarus (ERB) she was afraid to return to her country.
She had previously alleged in a video posted online that she was entered into this Thursday’s 400m relay event at short notice by Belarusian officials, after some team mates were found to be ineligible to compete.
State media criticised her after she posted the video, with ONT television channel saying that she lacked “team spirit”.
On Sunday she says that her coaches came to her room and told her to pack and to fly home. She was reportedly booked onto Turkish Airlines flight 199 from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Istanbul.
The sprinter told Reuters she was removed from her team because she “spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches”.
The Belarus Olympic Team however said later that she was taken off the team because of her “emotional and psychological condition”, and would not compete in either the 200m race or the 400m relay event.
The BSSF was set up in August 2020 to support athletes during protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, re-elected last year in a disputed presidential vote.
Government forces brutally cracked down after hundreds of thousands protested about the election. Some of those who took part were also national-level athletes, who were stripped of funding, cut from national teams and detained for demonstrating.