Belarus, Eastern Europe, Olympics, Tokyo 2020, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, Japan, Eastern Asia, Austria, Western Europe

Belarus, Eastern Europe

Belarus athlete switches flight out of Tokyo due to security concerns

Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya switches flights out of Japan at the last minute because of security concerns, flying to Vienna instead of Warsaw

8/4/2021 12:15:00 PM

Belarus ian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya switches flights out of Japan at the last minute because of security concerns, flying to Vienna instead of Warsaw

In the latest plot twist in the diplomatic stand-off unfolding on the sidelines of Tokyo 2020 , Krystsina Tsimanouskaya boarded a flight to Vienna but is expected to head to Poland, where she has been offered a humanitarian visa.

Crackdown on dissent in BelarusThe sprinter sought protection from Tokyo 2020 officials on Sunday, claiming she was being forced to return to Belarus, which has been wracked by political upheaval and a crackdown on dissent after disputed elections that returned strongman Alexander Lukashenko to power last year. 

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Belarus was then rocked by months of protests, the largest of which drew up to 200,000, to which the authorities responded with a massive clampdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police. Leading opposition figures have been jailed or forced to leave the country.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist for 27 years, has denounced his opponents as foreign stooges and accused the US and its allies of plotting to overthrow his government.Krystsina Tsimanouskaya runs in the women's 100-meter run at the 2020 Summer Olympics on July 30, 2021. (Petr David Josek / AP)

"Another act of transnational repression"Tsimanouskaya was one of more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures who signed an open letter calling for new elections and for political prisoners to be freed.Her husband has now fled to Ukraine and the pair are expected to meet up in Poland, which is a staunch critic of Lukashenko's regime and has become home to a growing number of dissidents.

Tsimanouskaya arrived in Poland's embassy on Monday evening following a night spent in an airport hotel.Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday he had spoken to the "courageous" Tsimanouskaya, who is "currently well taken care of and safe".

"I assured her that she can count on the support and solidarity of Poland. In the coming days, she will fly to Warsaw, where she will be able to thrive without obstacles and, if she so chooses, will receive further assistance," he wrote on Facebook.

The International Olympic Committee has said it will investigate Belarus's Olympic team over the incident, but activists have called for the country's Olympic committee to be suspended and its athletes to compete as neutrals.Spokesman Mark Adams said Wednesday that the IOC had received a report from Belarus's Olympic committee, which was "being evaluated."

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And he said the IOC has opened a disciplinary commission "to establish facts in this case". Read more: TRT World »

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