A 24-year-old female athlete from Belarus who feared for her safety after she criticized the Belarusian Olympic Committee staff is seeking asylum in Poland.
Female sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she was removed from the olympic team and taken to the airport in order to return to Belarus, but told Japanese authorities that she did not, in fact, want to return to her home country.
“I am under pressure and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent. I ask the International Olympic Committee to interfere,” she said in a video posted by Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, a non-governmental organization.
“I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail. I am not afraid that I will be fired or kicked out of the national command,” she told Belarusian media outlet Tribuna. “I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus.”
On Sunday, Poland’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marcin Pryzdacz, said that Tsimanouskaya had been granted a visa.
“Poland is ready to help Kryscina Tsimanouskaya a Belarusian athlete ordered by the Lukashenka regime to return form (sic) Olympic Games to Minsk,” Pryzdacz said on Twitter. “She was offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses.”
Poland 🇵🇱 is ready to help Kryscina Tsimanouskaya a Belarusian athlete ordered by the Lukashenka regime to return form Olympic Games to Minsk. She was offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses.
— Marcin Przydacz (@marcin_przydacz) August 1, 2021
Reuters reported that Timanovskaya was seen entering the Polish embassy on Monday. According to Alexander Opeikin of the Belarussian Sports Solidarity Fund, Timanovskaya will fly to Warsaw on Wednesday.
“According to her decision, that’s what our consul heard in Tokyo, she’s planning to come to Poland in days to come to be here in Warsaw. And if she would like… she is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland,” Przydacz said.
As reported by The Daily Wire, Tsimanouskaya said she was removed from competition after criticizing her coaches in an Instagram post.
“Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4×400 m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” she said.
“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,” she said.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya was forced by the regime to leave the @Olympics in Tokyo & fly to Belarus after criticizing Belarus' management of the national team during the games. She's afraid to come back to Minsk. No athlete should be forced this way. pic.twitter.com/1Ros5scrJG
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) August 1, 2021
Once Tsimanouskaya arrived at the Haneda Airport, she sought protection from the Japanese police.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have spoken to Krystsina Tsymanouskaya directly tonight,” the IOC said on Twitter. “She is with the authorities at Haneda airport and is currently accompanied by a staff member of Tokyo 2020. She has told us that she feels safe. The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days.”
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have spoken to Krystsina Tsymanouskaya directly tonight. She is with the authorities at Haneda airport and is currently accompanied by a staff member of Tokyo 2020. She has told us that she feels safe. /1
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) August 1, 2021
The President of Belarus — Alexander Lukashenko — is known as the “last dictator” in Europe, and recently had a journalist who was critical of the regime arrested while he was flying over Belarusian airspace.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].