The Olympic athlete, who refused to be sent home from Tokyo after criticising her country's sports officials, arrived in Warsaw under Polish diplomatic protection on Wednesday evening, after first reaching Vienna, and having spent the previous two nights at the Polish embassy in Tokyo, news agencies reported.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (centre) walks on her way to board a plane at Narita Airport near Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: EPA/JIJI PRESS via PAP
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (left) with Austrian State Secretary Magnus Brunner (right) during a stopover en route to Poland from Tokyo, at Vienna's Schwechat Airport on Wednesday. Photo: EPA/Florian Schroetter
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya arrives in Warsaw on Wednesday. Photo: Tymon Markowski/Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
‘Polish gene of solidarity’
Szynkowski vel Sęk told the TVP Info news channel on Thursday that "the Polish gene of solidarity" had been the driving force behind the operation.
"I won't hide the fact that it was a difficult affair, due to the various risks along the way," vel Sęk said, without elaborating.
"It was indeed not an easy operation, but it was concluded last night," he added.
He also said he had spoken to Tsimanouskaya on Wednesday evening and found her "tired, but happy that this stage of her journey will end."
Noting that the sprinter needed rest, vel Sęk reaffirmed she would be offered a chance "to develop her sporting career” in Poland, although he said the decision on what to do next would be "up to her.”
Asked if Tsimanouskaya's children would be granted Polish humanitarian visas, like the runner herself and her husband, vel Sęk replied that "we will be trying to do everything in our power to make her and her family secure."
'We are a country of solidarity'
Another Polish deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said in a media interview on Wednesday that Tsimanouskaya "is happy to be in Warsaw and waiting for her husband to join her."
"We are a country of solidarity," Przydacz told British broadcaster BBC News in an interview.
He added: "We have been supporting Belarusian civil society, independent media, but also ordinary Belarusians who have had to flee their country for political reasons. So that was quite a natural step for us, to offer our support."
The sprinter caused a diplomatic incident on Sunday when she said her coaches had cut her Tokyo Games short, demanding she pack her bags at the Olympic village and taking her to the airport against her wishes because she had publicly criticised them, the Reuters news agency reported.
Tsimanouskaya asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene and sought police protection so she would not have to board the flight.
Poland this week issued a humanitarian visa to the 24-year-old, who had been due to compete in the women's 200m event at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
She won the 200m at the 2019 Universiade in Naples and has also taken part in world and European championships.
Last year, when the Belarusian opposition protested after the country's disputed presidential election, Tsimanouskaya condemned violence and expressed support for free speech.
'Further assistance' possible 'if she wishes'
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday offered his country's “support and solidarity” to Tsimanouskaya.
His office tweeted at the time that "in the coming days, she will arrive in Warsaw, where she will be able to develop unhindered and, if she wishes, receive further assistance."
Tsimanouskaya's husband has also been granted a Polish humanitarian visa, government spokesman Piotr Müller confirmed on Wednesday.
Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters