Tokyo Olympics

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya Speaks Out After Seeking Asylum in Poland

"My grandmother, she called me and she said, 'Please don't come back to Belarus.' And that was the reason I go to Poland," Tsimanouskaya shared

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya,
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is shedding light on her "dangerous" situation after Poland granted her asylum.

The Belarusian Olympian, 24, told the Associated Press this week that team officials "made it clear that, upon return home, I would definitely face some form of punishment" after she criticized her coaches (in a since-deleted Instagram post) for allegedly forcing her to compete in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, even though she has never competed in the event. She told the AP, "There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me."

Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya will reportedly seek asylum in Poland after her coaches tried to force her onto a plane back to her home country Sunday. The sprinter, who had been set to compete in the 200m on Monday, said the Belarusian staff was trying to punish her for speaking publicly against her coaches on Instagram and feared for her safety.

On Aug. 2, Poland's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed his country was offering her asylum. As Marcin Przydacz tweeted, "She has received a humanitarian Visa. Poland will do whatever is necessary to help her continue her sporting career. [Poland] always stands for Solidarity."

Per Al Jazeera, Tsimanouskaya landed in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 4 after refusing to travel back home from Tokyo.

Jaw-Dropping Photos from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

From Poland, she spoke with CBS This Morning on Friday, Aug. 6, saying she is still worried about her family in Belarus, even though she was able to flee to safety.

"My grandmother, she called me and she said, 'Please don't come back to Belarus.' And that was the reason I go to Poland," Tsimanouskaya shared.

She continued, "Now I can't come back to Belarus, because for sure now, it's so dangerous for me. I don't know when I can come back to home. It's my country," adding, "I can't come back."

Members of her team tried to send her home after her social media complaints, according to CBS News, but she refused to return to Belarus at the Japanese airport and asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene.

Earlier this week, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Tsimanouskaya is feeling "safe and secure" and announced an investigation led by the Olympics organizers, per The New York Times.

"We have decided to launch, not surprisingly, a formal investigation, which will be led by the IOC administration," he stated at a news conference. "We need to establish the full facts. We need to hear everyone involved. That obviously can take time."

The Belarusian Olympic Committee told the NYT that it removed Tsimanouskaya from the Olympics because of her "emotional and psychological state," and she didn't compete in the 200-meter race on Monday.

Dzmitry Dauhalionak, a leader of Belarus' National Olympic Committee, declined the AP's request for comment.

The IOC had already banned Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his son, Viktor Lukashenko, who is the president of the Belarusian Olympic Committee, from attending the Games, according to the NYT. The country was still allowed to send 103 team members to compete.

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