Belarusian officials are trying to send sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya home from the Olympic Games, but she is trying to stay off the flight and has sought the help of Japanese police and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
After speaking out about negligence from her country’s Olympics committee, she was withdrawn from competition.
She has said she was taken to the airport by members of the Belarusian Olympic team and that she is scared to return to her home country.
“I will not return to Belarus,” she even said in a message sent to Reuters.
“I think I am safe as I am with police,” Tsimanouskaya then told a Reuters photographer at the airport.
The IOC released a statement on Sunday evening to explain what they know at this stage.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have spoken to Krystsina Tsymanouskaya directly tonight,” it started.
“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.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days.”
Tsimanouskaya – who has competed in the women’s 100m heats and who was scheduled to run in the 200m on Monday and 4x400m on Thursday – made some criticism about the organisation and administration done for the Belarusians competing at the Games.
The national organising committee then removed her because of what they claimed was medical advice from team doctors over the runner’s emotional state. But, Tsimanouskaya has said she was being removed because of her criticism.
She requested the help of the ICO through a video published by the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation, set up to help Belarusian athletes who have spoken out about president Alexander Lukashenko.
It does appear that the IOC is taking this matter seriously and working to support the athlete.