Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya refused to board a plane leaving Tokyo on Sunday after saying her national Olympic team forced her to go to the airport after criticism from her coaching staff.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a cheep that she had spoken with Tsimanouskaya and that a Tokyo 2020 staff member accompanies her at Haneda airport.
“She has told us that she feels safe,” the IOC said in a tweet. “The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their discussions with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the coming days,” he said in other.
According to Reuters, the Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that the coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the games based on the doctors’ advice on his “emotional and psychological state”.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has cracked down on dissidents following last year’s presidential elections, which he claims to have won, but which have been widely condemned as fraudulent.
In May, Belarusian authorities forced a Ryanair flight to divert to Minsk, where officials detained opposition journalist and activist Roman Protasevich and his partner, both on board.
Lukashenko’s son, Viktor Lukashenko, is the president of the Belarusian Olympic Committee.
The Belarus team’s decision to withdraw Tsimanouskaya came after she complained on Instagram that she had been entered into a race on short notice, as other teammates were found to be ineligible.
“Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they did not have enough doping controls,” Tsimanouskaya told Reuters.
“And the coach brought me into the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came up to me and said he had received an order from above to take me out. “
The Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which works to support athletes selected for their political views, saying Tsimanouskaya plans to seek asylum in a European country and would start with Austria.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted that it would be “welcome” in your country. Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek saying Prague is “ready to help”, offering a visa for Tsimanouskaya to enter the country and apply for protected status.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to Lithuania after the elections, said On twitter she was “grateful” to the IOC for their “quick reaction to the situation with the Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya”. He has the right to international protection and to continue participating in the @Olympics. “Tsikhanouskaya added that it would be” crucial “to investigate Belarus’ actions.