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Belarus Runner Claims Olympic Team Tried To Force Her To Retire

Belarus Runner Claims Olympic Team Tried To Force Her To Retire

TOKYO (AP) — A Belarus track sprinter claims her Olympic team attempted to deport her from Japan, sparking a standoff at Tokyo's main airport on Sunday evening.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya's activist group said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and planned to seek asylum at the Austrian embassy in Tokyo.

Tsimanouskaya stated in a video message shared on social media that she was under pressure from Belarus team officials and requested assistance from the International Olympic Committee.

“I was put under duress, and they are attempting to deport me without my consent,” the 24-year-old runner explained.

Tsimanouskaya, who is scheduled to compete in the Olympic 200-meter heats on Monday, took to Instagram to criticize Belarus team officials, claiming she was placed in the 4x400 relay despite never competing in the event.

According to the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, the athlete was targeted by government supporters, and Tsimanouskaya sought assistance from the organization to avoid being deported to Minsk.

“The campaign was quite serious, and that was a clear signal that her life would be in danger in Belarus,” said Alexander Opeikin, a BSSF spokesman, in an interview with The Associated Press.

Tsimanouskaya was summoned by Japanese police at Haneda Airport and did not board a flight to Istanbul, according to Opeikin, who added that foreign ministry officials arrived later.

Tsimanouskaya was in a police station early Monday morning, according to a statement issued by the BSSF.

“I explained the situation to a police officer about how I was taken from the Olympic Village,” she said, adding, “Now I am in a secure situation and determining where I will spend the night.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has been at odds with the Belarus National Olympic Committee in the run-up to the Tokyo Games, announced that it had intervened.

The Olympics said in a statement that “the IOC... is investigating the situation and has requested clarification from the NOC.”


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