The Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, this Sunday, at the Tokyo airport. (Photo: ISSEI KATO via REUTERS)
Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has denounced that the Belarusian authorities are forcing her to leave Japan against her will and is afraid of ending up in jail after criticizing her own Olympic committee, led by the son of the country’s president. alerted the athlete herself in a video posted on social networks.
“I ask for help from the International Olympic Committee. They are trying to get me out of the country without my permission and I am asking the IOC to get involved ”, according to a video recorded on Telegram and verified by the BBC network. Shortly after, the IOC took note of the athlete’s request and confirmed that it is already studying the situation with the relevant authorities.
The president of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee is Viktor Lukashenko, son of the country’s president, Alexandr Lukashenko. Both were sanctioned in December by the IOC and have been banned from attending Tokyo 2020 during an investigation into allegations of political discrimination against athletes.
The Belarusian president is accused of manipulating the last presidential elections and using authoritarian tactics to silence his dissidents. Months after the elections, more than 1,500 Belarusian athletes published an open letter demanding the convening of new elections and the immediate end of the police repression against the opposition, which by then had already been organizing street protests against the victory of Lukashenko, which the European Union has refused to recognize.
In fact, the IOC announced in March the decision not to recognize the election of Viktor Lukashenko as head of the Belarusian committee and to maintain the December exclusion from all events related to the organization.
Criticism of the committee
The 200-meter runner had previously voiced her criticism of the Belarusian committee for forcing her to run in a relay event on short notice. The Belarusian Olympic team later announced that she had been withdrawn from competition due to her “emotional and psychological state”.
The athlete, according to the Belarusian journalist Tadeusz Giczan, began the procedures to request asylum in Europe, but this information could not be independently confirmed. The athlete left the airport police station at around 1:15 am, local time, and would now be in a “safe place”.
In a previous interview with the Belarusian radio station ERB, the athlete confirmed with a resounding “yes” that she was afraid to return to Belarus, where she denounced that she had been the subject of numerous threats after criticizing the National Olympic Committee.
“I am not afraid of being kicked out of the national team, I am afraid that in Belarus they could imprison me. The officials say that the order to get rid of me came from above, “he told the Tribuna.
IOC assesses the situation
The IOC has informed through its Twitter account that it has already contacted the athlete directly to study her situation, with a view to a decision in the coming days.
“Both the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organization have spoken directly with Krystsina Tsimanouskaya tonight. She is with the authorities at Haneda airport and is currently accompanied by a Tokyo 2020 staff member. She has told us that she feels safe, ”explained the international Olympic authorities.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their discussions with Tsimanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the coming days,” adds the statement from the IOC, which has also contacted the Belarusian Olympic Committee to clarify what happened with the athlete.
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.