Belarusian Olympic athlete says ‘punishment’ awaited her at home

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is alleging that officials from her country “made it clear” she would face punishment upon returning home from the Tokyo Games after she criticised her team’s management.

The 24-year-old sprinter refused to fly home from Tokyo on Sunday, alleging that her team had hustled her to the Japanese capital’s Haneda airport and was trying to force her on board a flight destined for Minsk via Istanbul against her wishes.

“They made it clear that upon return home I would definitely face some form of punishment,” she told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me.”

Tsimanouskaya sought the protection of Japanese police after refusing to fly home and on Monday headed to Poland’s embassy in the Japanese capital.

Poland granted her a humanitarian visa and she plans to fly to Warsaw later in the week, where she expects to be reunited with her husband.

The Polish embassy in Tokyo, the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all said Tsimanouskaya is “safe” in the meantime. On Tuesday, the IOC announced a formal investigation into the incident and said it expected a report later in the day from the Belarusian team on Tsimanouskaya’s case.


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