The Belarusian athlete Kryscina Cimanouska is “safe” in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee announced on Monday. The 24-year-old sprinter spent the night in a hotel near Haneda airport, he said. Earlier, the athlete informed that the Belarusian authorities wanted to force her to return to Minsk. The Olympian turned to the Japanese police for help.
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams announced that the IOC would continue talks with the Belarusian woman on Monday and that he had asked the Belarusian Olympic Committee for clarification.
Asked by journalists what the IOC can do to protect other athletes in the Olympic Village, Adams replied that detailed information on exactly what happened and how the Belarusian ended up at the airport was still being gathered.
He added that the IOC had taken a series of actions against the Belarusian Olympic Committee before the games, after the country was shaken by a wave of nationwide protests against the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Order from Minsk
24-year-old Kryscina Cimanouska was to start on Monday at the distance of 200 meters in the Olympic Games. According to the Belarusian news channel Nexta, the sprinter was taken to the Haneda airport in Tokyo by representatives of the Belarusian team. Reuters added that the player went there against her will, as a result of a “complaint” from one of the Belarusian coaches.
A few days ago Cimanouska criticized her coaches for the fact that due to their negligence, three Belarusian runners were not allowed to participate in the Olympics, and that she herself was enrolled in the 4×400 m relay, although she runs 200 m.
On Sunday, Cimanouska informed that her guardians are trying to force her to return to Belarus, and the order to remove her from the team and send her back to the country came from Minsk. Journalists present at the Tokyo airport on Sunday reported that Cimanouska did not board the scheduled flight to Istanbul, from where it was supposed to fly to Minsk.
An appeal for help
The video from the airport shows the player in the company of Japanese policemen. The runner admitted that while already at the airport, she contacted a member of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to be picked up. She also reported to the police, where she asked for protection. A source at the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which supports athletes imprisoned or removed for political views, told Reuters that the sprinter planned to ask for asylum in Germany or Austria on Monday.
In a recording published on Telegram by the foundation, Cimanouska asked the International Olympic Committee to become involved in her cause. A spokesman for the IOC said on Sunday that the committee was looking at the matter.
Later that day, on Twitter, the IOC assured that the committee representatives and the organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo were talking to the sprinter. It was then reported that Cimanouska was still at the airport and was accompanied by a representative of the organizers. As added, the IOC will hold talks with the parties to “take the next steps in the days to come”.
Main photo source: Reuters