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Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'Safe' In Tokyo After Refusing To Get Flight Home

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Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'Safe' In Tokyo After Refusing To Get Flight Home

A Belarusian sprinter who said she was worried for her safety after criticising her coaches is safe in Tokyo after refusing to take a flight home.

Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, claimed she was ordered to pack up her belongings and forcibly taken to the airport on Sunday after she spoke out against her coaches and was accused of lacking 'team spirit'.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Olympic authorities have said she spent the night at a hotel at Tokyo's Haneda airport and is being looked after by Japanese authorities.

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Belarus has said she was removed from the team due to her 'emotional and psychological condition'.

Tsimanouskaya had been due to compete in the women's 200m today but had complained about being entered into another race at short notice because some of her teammates had been unable to take part.

The video was criticised by Belarusian state media, with one outlet saying she had not shown 'team spirit'.

After Tsimanouskaya spoke out, she appeared in a video on social media in which she said she was 'put under pressure' to go back to Belarus so had asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help.

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She explained: "They are trying to get me out of the country without my permission."

At the airport Tsimanouskaya approached police for protection, and in a video could be heard to say: "I think I am safe. I am with the police."

The flight went ahead without Tsimanouskaya.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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Speaking to The Tribuna, Tsimanouskaya said: "I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail. I am not afraid that I will be fired or kicked out of the national [team].

"I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus."

The IOC posted on Twitter to say: "The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have spoken to Krystsina Tsymanouskaya directly tonight.

"She is with the authorities at Haneda airport and is currently accompanied by a staff member of Tokyo 2020. She has told us that she feels safe.

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"The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days."

Speaking to the BBC, the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF), Anatol Kotau said: "She's afraid of repression on her family in Belarus - this is the main concern for her right now."

Following the incident, Poland and the Czech Republic have both offered Tsimanouskaya a visa - and she is reportedly considering seeking asylum in Europe.

As well as Japanese authorities and the IOC, numerous other agencies are now in contact with Tsimanouskaya including the UN refugee agency.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Tokyo Olympics

Claire Reid
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