Olympics kidnapping: Belarusian sprinter in deadlock at Tokyo airport after she fled to Japanese police telling them her team is trying to force her on a flight home because she criticized coaches
- Belarusian Olympic officials allegedly bundled an outspoken female 200m sprinter to an airport in Tokyo
- Krystsina Tsimanouskaya criticized national coaches after participating in the relay event on short notice
- Sprinter is now at the airport with the Japanese police and apparently wants to apply for asylum in Austria
- Dissident journalists said Belarusian state media fueled hate campaign against Tsimanouskaya
- Read the latest Olympic news in Tokyo, including schedule, medal table and results here
Belarusian Olympic officials are said to have bundled an outspoken female sprinter to an airport in Tokyo to try to force her home on Sunday after she publicly criticized the national coaches in what are feared an attempted kidnapping.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who was scheduled to compete in the women’s 200m race on Monday, told Reuters she had no intention of returning to Belarus and had sought protection from Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport so she wouldn’t have to. had to board the plane.
“I will not return to Belarus,” she told Reuters in a Telegram message.
Tsimanouskaya, 24, said the coaching staff came to her room on Sunday and told her to pack. She was taken to the airport before she could run in the 200m and 4x400m relay on Thursday.
She had previously claimed that she was entered in the relay at short notice by Belarusian officials on Thursday after some teammates became ineligible to participate. The Belarus Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The sprinter is now at the airport with the Japanese police and wants to apply for asylum in Austria, according to Belarusian journalist Tadeusz Giczan. Dissident journalists said Belarusian state media launched a campaign against her after criticizing the management of the Belarus national team on Friday.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya talks to a police officer at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who was scheduled to compete in the women’s 200 meters on Monday, told Reuters that she had no intention of returning to her country and that she had sought protection from Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport so she wouldn’t have to. had to board the plane.
Minsk-based journalist Hanna Liubakova said on Twitter: “It has been reported that Kryscina Tsimanouskaya, who publicly criticized the regime and its sports officials, is being sent back to Belarus from Tokyo.
“Apparently representatives of the Belarusian national team took her to the airport. It looks like kidnapping.”
She later posted a video that appeared to show the athlete at the airport and tweeted, “Tsimanouskaya was accompanied to the airport by two members of the Belarusian sports delegation.
“She’s now with the police and volunteers. When asked if she was afraid to fly to #Belarus, Tsimanouskaya answered ‘yes’.’
Tsimanouskaya had previously complained that she was entered in the 4x400m relay after some members of the team became ineligible to participate in the Olympics because they had not undergone adequate doping tests.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is seen at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda International Airport
“Some of our girls didn’t fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters from the airport.
“And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I’ve talked about this publicly. The head coach came up to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me.’
Tsimanouskaya added that she was standing next to the Japanese police at the airport and that she contacted a member of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to pick her up at the airport.
Haneda police said no one was immediately available for comment.