The Belarusian sprinter said she was taken to the airport against her will and asked for help from the International Olympic Committee

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to intervene in her case on Sunday after saying that she was removed from the national team and taken to Tokyo airport for criticizing the national team coach, which went against her wishes.

In the early hours of Monday morning local time, the 24-year-old Tsimanouskaya was still at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

“I am seeking help from the International Olympic Committee,” Zimanusskaya said in a video posted on the Telegram channel of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which supports athletes who have been jailed or marginalized for political views.

“I am under pressure. They tried to get me out of this country without my permission. I asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene.”

The International Olympic Committee stated that it had talked with Zimanusskaya and she was accompanied by a Tokyo 2020 organizer at the airport.

The IOC said in a tweet: “She told us she feels safe.” It added that the IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their dialogue with Zimanusskaya and the authorities, “to determine the next few days The next move”.

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Tsimanouskaya participated in the women’s 100m preliminaries on Friday and plans to participate in the 200m preliminaries on Monday and the 4x400m relay on Thursday.

Earlier, Zimanusskaya told Reuters that she did not plan to return to China. She had sought protection from the Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport so that she would not have to board the plane.

“I will not return to Belarus,” she told Reuters in a message on Telegram.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that the coach decided to withdraw her from the Olympics based on the advice of the doctor Zimanusskaya on the “emotional and psychological state”. It did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Zimanusskaya said that the coaching staff came to her room on Sunday and asked her to pack her bags. She said that she was taken to the airport by a representative of the Belarusian Olympic team.

She said that because “I talked about the negligence of our coach on Instagram”, she has been removed from the team.

Add to accidental relay

Zimanusskaya had previously complained that after some members of the team were found to be ineligible for the Olympics, she participated in the 4x400m relay because they did not receive a sufficient number of doping tests.

“Some of our girls did not fly here to participate in the 4x400m relay race because they did not conduct adequate doping tests,” Zimanusskaya told Reuters at the airport.

“The coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I talked about it publicly. The head coach came over and said to me that there was an order to remove me.”

On July 11, 2019, after the women’s 200m final of the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy, Belarusian Zimanusskaya raised the national flag. (Ivan Romano/Getty Images)

A Reuters photographer witnessed the athlete standing next to the Japanese police.

“I think I am safe,” she said. “I’m with the police.”

A police officer at Haneda Airport said they were with a female Olympic athlete from Belarus in Terminal 3.

A source at the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation said that Zimanusskaya planned to apply for asylum in Germany or Austria on Monday.

Watch | The leaders of the Belarusian opposition call on Western powers to put more pressure on Lukashenko:

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, an opposition leader in exile in Belarus, said that the transfer of flights was a direct result of Western democracies such as Canada and did not take strong action against President Alexander Lukashenko early. 5:47

The exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya urged the International Olympic Committee to handle the athlete’s case.

“Thank you #IOC for the quick response to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya. She has the right to receive international protection and continue to participate in @Olympics,” Tikhanovskaya tweeted.

“It is also vital to investigate the violation of the rights of athletes by the National Olympic Committee of Belarus.”

Vitaly Utkin, a member of the Belarusian parliament, criticized Zimanusskaya’s actions.

“This is a betrayal and betrayal of the Belarusian people and her fellow athletes,” the state broadcaster STV quoted Utkin as saying.

Lukashenko maintains tight control over the country

Since 1994, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been closely controlling Belarus, the former Soviet Union. Last year, in the face of large-scale street protests triggered by the alleged manipulation of the election by opponents, he ordered a violent suppression of the protesters. Lukashenko denied the allegations of vote-rigging.

Lukashenko’s son Victor Lukashenko is the chairman of the Belarusian Olympic Committee.

In a country where elite athletes often rely on government funding, it is unusual that some famous Belarusian athletes joined the protests. Several people have been sentenced to jail, including Olympic basketball player Yelena Lushanka and decathlon athlete Andre Klaushanka.

Others lost their national jobs or were kicked out of the national team for supporting the opposition.

During the Cold War, dozens of sports and cultural figures defected from the Soviet Union and its satellite countries in overseas competitions or tours. However, the freedom of travel that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reduced the need for such dramatic acts.

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