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UPDATE: Poland issues humanitarian visa to Belarusian Olympic athlete

02.08.2021 15:00
Poland has issued a humanitarian visa to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who refused to fly home early from the Tokyo Olympics after criticising her coaches, a deputy foreign minister said on Monday.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.Photo: PAP/Tytus Żmijewski

Marcin Przydacz announced in a tweet that Tsimanouskaya "received a humanitarian visa" after establishing "direct contact with Polish diplomats in Tokyo."

"Poland will do whatever is necessary to help her to continue her sporting career," Przydacz also tweeted in English.

This latest post from Przydacz came after he said on Sunday that Tsimanouskaya "was offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses."

Tsimanouskaya was due to compete in the women's 200m event on Monday. However, after she publicly complained about being entered into another race at short notice, she was forced to pack before being taken to the airport against her will.

The Belarusian sprinter refused to board the plane and asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help. She explained on social media she had been "put under pressure" by team officials to return home.

"They are trying to get me out of the country without my permission," the sprinter said, adding: "this is why I am asking the IOC to intervene."

Japanese police took Tsimanouskaya into their care, first at the airport station and then at an undisclosed, protected location.

In a later message, the IOC said it had spoken to Tsimanouskaya and "she has told us she feels safe." The sprinter had earlier said she was afraid of returning to Belarus as she may face prison there.

Tsimanouskaya supported by Tsikhanouskaya

Tsimanouskaya received support from exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

Tsikhanouskaya also thanked the IOC "for the quick reaction to the situation." She added that Tsymanouskaya "has a right to international protection and to continue participation in the Olympics."

Meanwhile, state media in Belarus criticised the sprinter, and the country's Olympic Committee, headed by Alexander Lukashenka's son Viktor, said she had been taken off the team following consultation with doctors, because of her "emotional and physical condition."

Tsimanouskaya claims she has not been examined by medics.

The controversy erupted when the runner was asked to take part in the 400m relay event, in addition to the 100m and 200m races, because some teammates were found ineligible to compete, having failed to undergo enough drugs tests prior to the Olympics.

Tsimanouskaya publicly blamed the Belarusian sports officials for this, prompting a fierce response from the authorities.

The 24-year-old has competed at world and European championships and won the women’s 200m at the 2019 Universiade in Naples.

Last year, when the Belarusian opposition protested after the country's disputed presidential election, she condemned violence and expressed support for free speech.


Source: IAR