Belarus athlete refuses to go home, gets Polish visa

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on August 2, 2021 - Duration: 02:12s

Belarus athlete refuses to go home, gets Polish visa

A Belarusian athlete who took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday, a day after refusing her team's orders to board a flight home from the Olympic Games, has been granted a humanitarian visa by the Warsaw government.

Maha Albadrawi reports.


Belarus athlete refuses to go home, gets Polish visa

The Belarusian athlete who took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday (August 3) has been granted a humanitarian visa by the Warsaw government.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya had been due to compete in the women's 200-meter heats on Monday (Monday 3).

But, she says, she was taken to the airport on Sunday (August 1) to board a Turkish Airlines flight.

And believes she had been removed from the team after speaking out about what she described as the negligence of their coaches.

The sprinter had earlier complained on Instagram that she was entered in the 4x400 m relay without her knowledge, after other team members were found to be ineligible to compete because they had not undergone a sufficient number of doping tests.

The sportswoman refused to board the flight and sought the protection of Japanese police at the airport, before taking refuge at the Polish embassy.

Poland's deputy foreign minister said Tsimanouskaya plans to leave for Poland in the coming days, where she will be joined by her husband.

"She was offered by us a humanitarian visa and she already applied for that visa.

She’s at this moment at the Polish embassy.

So, the procedures are ongoing." France's European Affairs Minister also chimed in, telling RFI radio it would be an honor for Europe to grant Tsimanouskaya political asylum.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors' advice about her "emotional, psychological state." Chief Coach of the Belarus Athletics Team, Yuri Moisevich, said he noticed something was off prior to the incident.

"She stood out for her behavior.

We have known her for a long time, and there was something wrong with her.

She secluded herself sometimes and sometimes she didn't want to communicate.

We have a young team who are very hard to cheat.

We were getting some signals that something was happening to the girl." The incident has put renewed attention on the political discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state run by President Alexander Lukashenko.

Police there have cracked down on dissent following a wave of protests triggered by an election last year which the opposition says was rigged to keep him in power.

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