Tokyo Olympics: Belarusian sprinter refuses to board flight back home after complaining about national coaching staff

A Belarusian sprinter refused to get on a flight from Tokyo on Sunday after being taken to the airport in opposition to her needs by her crew following her complaints about national coaching staff on the Olympic Games.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, sought safety from Japanese police at Haneda airport late on Sunday. Early on Monday, Japanese lawmaker Taiga Ishikawa tried to go to her on the sub-precinct on the airport however police instructed him she was not there.

Ishikawa, an opposition member of the Upper House of parliament, instructed Reuters a police officer declined to inform him the place the athlete was. Police didn’t remark to reporters, who had been ready by way of the night time and never seen Tsimanouskaya depart.

The International Olympic Committee earlier mentioned it had spoken to Tsimanouskaya and that she was being accompanied by a Tokyo 2020 staff member on the airport.

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“She has told us she feels safe,” the IOC mentioned in a Twitter publish.

It added the IOC and Tokyo 2020 would proceed their conversations with Tsimanouskaya and the authorities “to determine the next steps in the upcoming days”.

The incident on Sunday, first reported by Reuters, highlighted discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state that’s run with a decent grip by President Alexander Lukashenko. In energy since 1994, he confronted a wave of protests final yr, which some athletes joined.

Tsimanouskaya mentioned coaching staff had come to her room on Sunday and instructed her to pack. She mentioned she was then taken to Haneda airport by representatives of the Belarusian Olympic crew.

But she refused to board the flight, telling Reuters in a message over Telegram: “I will not return to Belarus.”

The Belarusian Olympic Committee mentioned in a press release coaches had determined to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on docs’ recommendation about her “emotional, psychological state”.

The committee didn’t instantly reply to a request for added remark.

Earlier, a Reuters photographer noticed the athlete standing subsequent to police on the airport. “I think I am safe,” Tsimanouskaya mentioned. “I am with the police.”

In a video printed on Telegram by the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, Tsimanouskaya requested the IOC to get entangled in her case.

A supply on the basis, which helps athletes jailed or sidelined for his or her political beliefs, mentioned Tsimanouskaya deliberate to request asylum in Germany or Austria on Monday.

The basis’s head, former Olympic swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia, instructed Reuters Tsimanouskaya is also receiving help from Poland.

“We appealed to a number of countries for help,” mentioned Herasimenia, a three-time Olympic medallist. “But the first that reacted was the Polish consulate. We are ready to accept their help.”

Lukashenko’s son, Viktor Lukashenko, is president of the Belarus Olympic Committee.


Tsimanouskaya ran within the ladies’s 100 metres heats on Friday and was scheduled to run within the 200 metres heats on Monday, together with the 4×400 metres relay on Thursday.

She mentioned she had been faraway from the crew due “to the fact that I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches”.

Tsimanouskaya had complained on Instagram that she was entered within the 4x400m relay after some crew members had been discovered to be ineligible to compete on the Olympics as a result of that they had not undergone a adequate quantity of doping checks.

“Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” Tsimanouskaya instructed Reuters from the airport.

“And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me.”

The head of the Belarus athletics crew in Tokyo, Yuri Moisevich, instructed state-owned broadcaster STV the choice had been taken to make modifications to the relay crew, however they didn’t announce it instantly in order not to disrupt the athletes’ preparation.

“We intended to tell her everything, to explain it, especially as she was a reserve,” Moisevich mentioned.

Exiled Belarusian opposition chief Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the IOC to take up the athlete’s case.

“She has a right to international protection & to continue participation in the @Olympics,” Tsikhanouskaya wrote on Twitter. “It is also crucial to investigate Belarus’ NOC violations of athletes’ rights.”

Tsikhanouskaya later in contrast the incident to the pressured touchdown of a Ryanair jet in Minsk in May to arrest dissident blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, and proposed that each one these concerned within the “attempted kidnapping” of Tsimanouskaya be added to EU and U.S. sanctions lists.

“No Belarusian who has left Belarus’ borders is safe because they can be kidnapped, just like Krystsina Tsimanouskaya or Roman Protasevich,” she wrote on Telegram.

Vitaliy Utkin, a member of the Belarusian parliament, criticised Tsimanouskaya’s behaviour.

“It is betrayal and treachery, which was directed towards the Belarusian people and her fellow athletes,” STV cited Utkin as saying.

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