Belarus athlete forcibly taken to airport after criticizing coaches for ‘negligence’

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya on Sunday called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to interfere in her case after saying she had been removed from the national team and taken to an airport in Tokyo against her will over her criticisms. on national coaches.

“I ask the International Olympic Committee for help,” Tsimanouskaya said in the video posted on the Telegram channel of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, a group that supports athletes who are imprisoned or sidelined for their political views.

“There’s pressure on me. They’re trying to get me out of the country without my permission. I’m asking the IOC to join.”

Tsimanouskaya said she was taken to the airport against her will on Sunday to board a flight back home after she publicly complained about national coaches at the Tokyo Olympics.

The sprinter, who was scheduled to compete in the women’s 200 meters on Monday, told Reuters that she had no intention of returning to her country and that she had sought protection from Japanese police at Tokyo’s Haneda airport so she wouldn’t be caught. had to board the plane. .

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

The Belarus Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tsimanouskaya, 24, said the coaching staff came to her room on Sunday and told her to pack. She was taken to the airport before she could run in the 200m and 4x400m relay on Thursday.

She said she was removed from the team “for the fact that I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches”.

Tsimanouskaya was escorted to the airport by two members of the Belarusian sports delegation. She is now with the police and volunteers. When asked if she was afraid to fly to #Belarus, Tsimanouskaya answered “yes”.

— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) August 1, 2021

Tsimanouskaya had previously complained that she was entered in the 4x400m relay after some members of the team were ineligible to participate in the Olympics because they had not undergone adequate doping tests.

“Some of our girls didn’t fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters from the airport.

“And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came up to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me.”

Tsimanouskaya added that she was standing next to the Japanese police at the airport and that she contacted a member of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to pick her up at the airport.

Haneda police said no one was immediately available for comment.

( Jowharwith REUTERS)

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