A Belarusian Olympic sprinter plans to seek asylum in Germany or Austria after her country’s Olympic committee attempted to send her home for complaining about her coaches.
The 24-year-old Krystsina Tsimanouskaya had been scheduled to compete in the women’s 200 meter race on Monday, but her coaches suddenly came to her room on Sunday told her to pack.
“I will not return to Belarus,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters in a message via Telegram, after seeking protection from Japanese police. “I think I am safe. I am with the police,” she told a Reuters photographer who observed her standing with local officers at Haneda Airport.
“Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters. “And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me.”
The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches chose to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from Tokyo on doctors’ advice regarding her “emotional, psychological state.”
The International Olympic Committee said it had seen the media reports regarding Tsymanouskaya and were looking to gain clarity.
“The IOC has seen the reports in the media about the Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya,” the tweet on Sunday said. “We are looking into the situation and have asked the NOC for clarification.”
Belarus has faced political chaos since a disputed election last August led to massive protests, which dictator Alexander Lukashenko violently quashed.
Several were jailed, including Olympic basketball player Yelena Leuchanka and decathlete Andrei Krauchanka.