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Belarusian sprinter says she would have faced punishment if she returned home

Written by on 03/08/2021

The Belarusian Olympic sprinter who refused to board a plane home from the Games has said officials from her country “made it clear” she would face punishment if she returned.

Krystina Tsimanouskaya, 24, has accused her national team’s officials of trying to force her to fly to Minsk after she criticised the coaching staff on social media.

After spending a night at an airport hotel, she received a humanitarian visa by Poland and is planning to fly to Warsaw this week and seek refuge in Europe.

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

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus reacts after competing in Heat 6 of the women's 100m at the Tokyo Olympics
Image: Tsimanouskaya hopes to continue her career

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Tsimanouskaya also said she believed she would be kicked off the national team, and demanded an investigation into who gave the order to withdraw her from Tokyo Olympics.

“For now I just want to safely arrive in Europe… meet with people who have been helping me… and make a decision what to do next,” she said.

She added: “I would very much like to continue my sporting career because I’m just 24 and I had plans for two more Olympics at least. For now, the only thing that concerns me is my safety.”

Belarus National Olympic Committee is headed by the country’s authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko and his son Viktor.

 Sky News

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