Belarus Olympic athlete row: What it’s essential to know

Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya underneath safety of Polish embassy in Tokyo after accusing Belarus of attempting to drive her to fly home.

The case of Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has gripped the world since Sunday, when the 24-year-old sprinter accused her Olympic staff of taking her to Tokyo airport to be flown home in opposition to her needs after she criticised its administration.

Tsimanouskaya has claimed she was warned by Belarusian officers that she would face “punishment” upon returning home from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Fearing for her security, she sought the safety of Japanese police on the airport as a substitute of boarding the Belarus-bound jet and later made for the Polish embassy in Tokyo as studies abounded that she was searching for asylum in Europe.

She has since been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland’s authorities.

Here’s what it’s essential to find out about her case:

What sparked the standoff?

Tsimanouskaya mentioned the standoff started after she criticised how officers have been managing her staff, setting off an enormous backlash in state-run media shops in her native Belarus, the place longtime President Alexander Lukashenko has overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent since a contested August 2020 election.

The runner mentioned in a video posted on her Instagram account that her coaches had registered her for the 4×400 metres relay occasion – although she had not educated for such a race – after some staff members have been discovered to be ineligible to compete as a result of that they had not undergone adequate doping checks.

She mentioned she was then barred from competing within the 200 metres occasion scheduled to happen on Monday and withdrawn from the video games altogether by her staff’s officers.

Tsimanouskaya claims she was later taken to Tokyo’s Haneda airport however she refused to board the airplane and sought the safety of Japanese police.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee mentioned coaches had determined to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on medical doctors’ recommendation about her “emotional, psychological state”.

Tsimanouskaya reacts after competing in Heat 6 at Tokyo 2020 [Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters]

Where is Tsimanouskaya now?

Poland granted her a humanitarian visa on Monday and he or she is at the moment residing within the Polish embassy in Tokyo.

She is anticipated to depart Japan on Wednesday and travel to the Polish capital, Warsaw.

She is about to be reunited there along with her husband, who fled Belarus amid this week’s developments and now reportedly plans to hunt refuge in Europe, as effectively.

Polish officers, the Japanese authorities and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all mentioned Tsimanouskaya is “safe” within the embassy constructing.

What has the response been?

Tsimanouskaya’s case has attracted worldwide consideration, sparking outrage from capitals essential of President Lukashenko’s authorities and a media frenzy.

The athlete herself has referred to as for an intensive investigation into her withdrawal from the Tokyo Games and for potential sanctions in opposition to those that she claims “deprived” her of the “right to compete”.

She stopped in need of calling for motion in opposition to the broader staff, nonetheless, stating that Belarus’s athletes “aren’t guilty of anything and … should keep competing”.

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya enters the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan on Monday [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

Tsimanouskaya’s remarks got here because the IOC introduced it had launched a proper investigation into her case and mentioned it anticipated a report in a while Tuesday from the Belarusian staff.

Belarus’ National Olympic Committee instructed a state-run information company that it was carefully monitoring the state of affairs and cooperating with the IOC.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday accused Belarus of an “act of transnational repression” over the alleged try and drive her home.

“Such actions violate the Olympic spirit, are an affront to basic rights, and cannot be tolerated,” he tweeted.

Poland denounced what it branded a “criminal attempt” to kidnap the athlete.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas mentioned the “attempted kidnapping” of Tsimanouskaya highlighted “the rulers in Minsk … scorn their own athletes and with this, also the Olympic principles.”

“Sportsmanship and solidarity are stronger than the violence which Lukashenko uses to cling to power,” Maas mentioned.


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