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Belarus Sprinter Refused to Board Flight Home From Tokyo

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya asked the IOC to intervene
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2021 4:02 PM CDT
Belarus Sprinter Refused to Board Flight Home From Tokyo
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, of Belarus, runs in the women's 100-meter run at the 2020 Summer Olympics Friday. Tsimanouskaya alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff Sunday, Aug. 1, at Tokyo’s main airport.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Newser) – A sprinter from Belarus asked police for help at the Tokyo airport, saying she was being forced to board a flight. Earlier, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya made an Instagram post criticizing her coaches’ decision to enter her in a race, the 4x400-meter relay, that she had not trained for. Then, she said, the coaches withdrew her from the team citing her “emotional, psychological state,” Reuters reports. Then, they gave her an hour to pack her things and took her to Tokyo’s Haneda airport Sunday, she said. Tsimanouskaya, 24, refused to board the flight and asked Japanese police for help, saying she wanted the International Olympic Committee to intervene so that she wouldn’t be taken out of Japan without her consent, the Washington Post reports.

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Tsimanouskaya said she had only criticized coaches for their leadership after some athletes on the team did not complete their doping testing, and made no comment about Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. She said a coach in Minsk had asked her to delete her video, and that she agreed to remain silent in order to keep running for the team. She told the Belarusian publication Tribuna that she thinks “at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus.” Slovenian, Czech, and Polish officials have offered support and visas. (Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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