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Activist: Belarusian sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation purchased a ticket from Tokyo to Warsaw on August 4.

The Belarusian Olympic sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland after authorities have claimed to have tried to force her home for fear of her safety, a group of activists said Monday.

According to the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation Vadim Krivosheyev, athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is applying for a visa at the Polish Embassy in Tokyo. He told The Associated Press that the group bought a ticket for a plane to Warsaw on August 4.

The current standoffs appear to have started after Tsimanouskaya criticized officials for how they manage her team. Zimanuskaya, who was scheduled to compete in the Olympic 200m heat on Monday, said on his Instagram account that he had participated in the 4×400 relay even though he had never participated in the event.

Tsimanouskaya said in a movie message delivered on social media that he was under pressure from Belarusian team officials and sought help from the International Olympic Committee.

“I’m under pressure and they’re trying to force me out of the country without my consent,” said the 24-year-old runner.

The authoritarian government of Belarus engaged in a brutal crackdown on the opposition after the presidential election a year ago caused an unprecedented wave of protests. Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has recently relentlessly pursued dissidents, including arresting planes for Minsk.

According to the Sports Foundation, government supporters have targeted Zimanuskaya, and athletes have sought help from the group.

BSSF spokesman Alexander Opeikin told AP in an interview.

Zimanuskaya summoned Japanese police at Haneda Airport and did not board the plane to Istanbul. Foreign ministry officials later arrived at the airport, according to Opeikin.

Underestimating the seriousness of the claim, some groups and countries say they are helping runners. Poland and the Czech Republic provided support, and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was cooperating with the International Olympic Committee and the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC, which had been in conflict with the Belarusian National Olympic Committee prior to the Tokyo Olympics, said it had intervened.

“The IOC is … investigating the situation and seeking clarification from the NOC,” he said in a statement.

Many critics of the Belarusian government have fled to Poland. “We have a humanitarian visa and are free to pursue a sports career in Poland,” Marsin Pujidatch, Deputy Foreign Minister, said on Twitter.

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Slawhanek also tweeted that the Czech Republic has offered asylum.

“If she decides to accept it, we will do our best to help her,” he wrote.

The Belarusian National Olympic Committee has been led by President Lukashenko and his son Victor for over 25 years.

Both Lukashenko have been banned from the Tokyo Olympics by the IOC. The IOC investigated complaints of facing retaliation and intimidation from athletes in response to protests after the presidential election in August last year.

A spokesman for the Belarus Olympic team did not respond to a request for comment.

In May, Belarusian officials were accused of directing a passenger plane to Minsk to detain journalist and activist Raman Plata Sevic and his Russian girlfriend.

Elder Lukashenko claimed that there was a bomb threat to the plane, which is why the fighters were scrambled to force a landing, but European Union leaders accused it of aerial piracy.

Platasevic, who ran a channel on a messaging app used to organize demonstrations against Lukashenko’s control, left his hometown in 2019 to reach Lithuania to escape the KGB’s reach in Belarus.

Zimanuskaya was already competing with Belarus on the first day of athletics at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday. She finished fourth in the first round heat at 11.47 seconds at 100 meters and did not move forward.

Associated Press writer Daria Litvinova contributed to this report from Moscow.

Other AP Olympics: https: //apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



Activist: Belarusian sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland

Source link Activist: Belarusian sprinter plans to seek asylum in Poland

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