Olympic sprinter says she will not return to Belarus
Belarus Olympic track sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is alleging that her Olympic team tried to send her home against her will, The Associated Press reported Sunday.
In a video circulating on social media, the 24-year-old sprinter pleads for help from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stating that authorities in Belarus are trying to force her to return to her country.
On her Instagram account, Tsimanouskaya criticized her team for placing her in a 4×400-meter relay event, which she had never run before, according to the AP.
“I was put under pressure, and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent,” Tsimanouskaya said in her message.
Looks like an international scandal is brewing in Tokyo: Belarusian athlete Kryscina Tsimanouskaya publicly appeals for help & says staff from her national Olympic committee are trying to forcibly repatriate her to Belarus after she criticised Belarusian sports officials. pic.twitter.com/70ztwLlD00
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) August 1, 2021
A spokesman for the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, Alexander Opeikin, told the AP that the sprinter asked the group for help and that she was the target of government supporters.
“The campaign was quite serious and that was a clear signal that her life would be in danger in Belarus,” Opeikin said.
Tsimanouskaya, who was scheduled to compete in the 200-meter heats on Monday, said she was at a police station after summoning the help of Japanese authorities and not boarding her initial flight to Istanbul, the AP reported.
In a statement, the IOC said that it has spoken with Tsimanouskaya about her situation, stating that the runner is currently with authorities.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days,” the IOC said.
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days. /2
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) August 1, 2021