Olympics-Belarusian sprinter leaves Tokyo for Vienna Reuters after refusing to go home


© Reuters. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian sprinter who has taken refuge in the Polish Embassy in Tokyo, arrived in Poland in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan for Narita International Airport on August 4, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato


Authors: Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Antoni Slodkowski

TOKYO (Reuters)-Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left Tokyo on a flight to Vienna on Wednesday, less than 72 hours after refusing her team’s request to return home.

After spending two nights at the Polish Embassy, ​​the 24-year-old, wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt and sunglasses, stepped onto the plane at Narita Airport and said “I RUN CLEAN” on it.

She was originally scheduled to leave on a flight to Warsaw. A Polish government source said that because of concerns about her privacy and safety, the news of the plan was made public and the reporter booked a seat on the flight, she was transferred to a flight to Vienna at the last minute.

Polish sources said that due to an incident in May, when a Ryanair flight was forced to land in Belarus, a dissident journalist was arrested, which caused great concern.

The sprinter triggered a diplomatic incident on Sunday when she said that her coach had shortened her Tokyo Olympics, asked her to pack her bags in the Olympic Village and took her to the airport against her wishes because she publicly criticized them. .

She refused to board the plane and sought protection from the Japanese police.

“I will not return to Belarus,” she told Reuters at the time.

Poland’s Belarusian opposition politician Pavel Latusko said that Zimanusskaya will go to Warsaw after arriving in Vienna. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydac confirmed that she is still under the care of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Narita Airport spokesperson Kazunori Hashimoto told reporters earlier that the appearance of a Reuters reporter on the Warsaw flight was one of the reasons for her change of plan. A source in the Polish government said that other journalists are also paying attention to the matter.

A Reuters spokesperson said that the news agency had contacted Zimanusskaya and her representative, and two reporters boarded the Warsaw flight in order to record her arrival in Poland.

IOC survey

The International Olympic Committee has begun investigating Zimanusskaya’s claims that she has been taken away from the athlete’s village and said on Wednesday that it had received a report from the Belarusian team.

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said: “The IOC is setting up a disciplinary committee to determine the facts of this case and to listen to the two officials allegedly involved in this incident-Artur Schumacher and The opinion of Yuri Moisevic.”

The National Olympic Committee of Belarus (NOC) did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Earlier, the National Olympic Committee stated that the coaches decided to let her withdraw from the Olympics based on the advice of doctor Zimanusskaya on the “emotional and psychological state”.

US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken accused the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus of carrying out an intolerable “transnational suppression” on this matter.

This incident has aroused people’s attention to Belarus. After last year’s election triggered a wave of protests, the police suppressed dissidents. The opposition said the election was meant to keep Lukashenko in power.

The Belarusian authorities characterized the anti-government protesters as criminals or violent revolutionaries supported by the West, and described the actions of their law enforcement agencies as appropriate and necessary.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Belarusian activist Vitaly Shishov, who was in exile in Ukraine, was found hanged in a park near his home in Kiev, and Ukrainian police launched a murder investigation. He led an organization that helped Belarusians escape persecution.

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