Belarusian sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo is ‘safe’, IOC says

Tokyo Olympics updates

The Belarusian sprinter competing on the Tokyo Video games who alleged she had been taken to the airport in opposition to her will for criticising nationwide coaches is “protected”, in accordance with Olympic officers.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya stayed at a resort in Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Sunday after seeking “protection” from native authorities, in accordance with the Worldwide Olympic Committee.

Japanese police, Tokyo 2020 officers and a consultant from the UNHCR, the UN refugee company, had been additionally with the runner, who had been because of compete in heats for the ladies’s 200-metre occasion on Monday.

“She’s protected and safe,” mentioned Mark Adams, the IOC’s chief spokesperson. 

Katsunobu Kato, Japanese authorities spokesperson, mentioned Tokyo was working with the IOC and different native authorities to find out the athlete’s intentions.

The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’ dictatorial chief, has been roundly criticised after he fraudulently claimed victory in final 12 months’s presidential election and launched into a brutal marketing campaign to suppress protesters and supporters of his rival.

The IOC banned Lukashenko from attending the Tokyo Video games together with different nationwide officers, together with his son Viktor, the president of the nation’s Olympic committee. 

The sanctions had been imposed after Belarusian athletes accused authorities of political discrimination and imprisonment. The IOC has additionally frozen funds to the Belarus Olympic Committee apart from these paid on to athletes. 

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarus’s opposition chief, informed the Monetary Instances that “what occurred to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is a part of the broader crackdown in opposition to athletes in Belarus. Right now, any criticism of authorities — even sports activities management — is taken into account an assault on the federal government.” 

Tsimanouskaya had used her social media accounts to castigate coaches who she mentioned registered her for occasions for which she had not skilled, such because the 4×400-metre relay, as different Belarusian athletes had not accomplished sufficient anti-doping exams to compete.

The IOC mentioned it was nonetheless working to find out how Tsimanouskaya left the athletes’ village on Sunday. It mentioned the sprinter appeared to have travelled to the airport with a bunch of about 16 Belarusian athletes set to go away Japan after their occasions ended. 

Tsimanouskaya was because of compete within the girls’s 200-metre occasion after having run within the heats of the 100-metre race on Friday. The IOC mentioned it was unclear if different Belarusian officers or coaches had accompanied her to the airport.

Photographs and video circulated on social media websites by Belarusian opposition activists appeared to indicate Tsimanouskaya refusing to board a airplane. 

The Belarus Olympic Committee didn’t reply to a request for remark however a press release attributed to the organisation recommended that Tsimanouskaya had been faraway from competitors by coaches on the recommendation of medical doctors about her “emotional, psychological state”. 

In response, Tsimanouskaya posted that assertion on Instagram with the message: “This can be a lie.” 

“I’m asking the Worldwide Olympic Committee for assist, they [Belarusian officials] are placing stress on me and they’re making an attempt to take me overseas with out my consent,” Tsimanouskaya mentioned in a video message reportedly recorded on Sunday night from the airport.

The IOC mentioned it had requested a report from the Belarus Olympic Committee earlier than deciding whether or not to take additional motion. The Japanese police didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

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