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Olympic: Belarus runner leaves Japan for refuge in Poland after row with team

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarusian athlete who was pulled from the Tokyo Olympics by her team against her will, arrives at Narita airport near Tokyo in the morning on Aug. 4, 2021, to head to Poland. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarusian athlete who was pulled from the Tokyo Olympics over the weekend by her team against her will, left Narita airport near Tokyo on Wednesday for Poland, which has offered her asylum.

    Tsimanouskaya, a 24-year-old sprinter, has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland after she refused to board a flight on Sunday and sought protection from Japanese police at Tokyo's Haneda airport, saying she was being forced to return to Belarus for criticizing her coach and she feared for her safety if she returned home.

    Escorted by officials, Tsimanouskaya, wearing a mask and sunglasses, arrived at Narita airport Wednesday morning after leaving Poland's embassy in Tokyo but did not respond to reporters' questions. She boarded a flight bound to Vienna with two believed to be Polish diplomats.

    The International Olympic Committee said it has received a written report from Belarus's National Olympic Committee on the case of Tsimanouskaya.

    IOC spokesman Mark Adams told a press briefing that its disciplinary commission will "establish the facts" in the case of the sprinter following the receipt Wednesday of the report and will question two Belarusian officials who were allegedly involved in trying to put her on a flight back home.

    The two officials are Yuri Moisevich, the national team's head coach, and Artur Shumak, deputy director of the country's track and field training center, according to the IOC.

    After spending the night at a hotel near Haneda airport under the protection of Japanese authorities, she entered the embassy on Monday and was later granted a humanitarian visa.

    Polish Ambassador to Japan Pawel Milewski on Tuesday tweeted that Tsimanouskaya is "doing well and thanks us all for extending a helping hand against those who do not wish her well."

    The sprinter had complained via social media that she was entered in the 4x400 meter relay despite having never competed in the event. She ran in the 100 meters but did not qualify for the semifinals and had been due to make an appearance in the 200-meter heats on Monday but did not compete.

    The Belarusian National Olympic Committee is headed by Viktor Lukashenko, son of the country's President Alexander Lukashenko.

    Both have been banned from attending the Tokyo Olympics amid allegations of discrimination against athletes who took part in protests against the president's controversial re-election in August 2020.

    The Belarusian committee has not publicly made any comments on the case since saying in a statement on Sunday that it withdrew her from the games "based on doctors' advice regarding her emotional and psychological state."

    Poland was among several other European countries that had offered to assist Tsimanouskaya. The other countries included Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

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