Belarus sprinter given Polish visa after refusing ‘forced’ flight home

Belarus Olympian given Polish visa after refusing 'forced' flight home
The sprinter was pictured inside Poland's embassy in Tokyo. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: A Belarusian sprinter who refused her authorities’ order to fly home early from the Tokyo Olympics has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland.

After spending the night in a secured hotel under protection from Japanese police, Krystina Timanovskaya is at the Polish embassy in Tokyo.

Thw 24-year-old sprinter said she was forcibly taken to the Tokyo airport in an attempt to send her home for criticising coaches, and voiced fears for her safety.

Belarusian Olympic officials says she was removed from the team because of her emotional state.

Marcin Przydacz, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland, said Ms Timanovskaya was in direct contact with Polish diplomats in Tokyo, and that Poland would do “whatever is necessary to help her continue her sporting career”.

Her husband has fled to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. He told the AFP news agency that he hoped to join his wife in Poland “in the near future”.

The incident has again put the spotlight on Belarus, which has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko, considered the only dictator in Europe, since 1994. Last year, nationwide protests over Lukashenko’s disputed re-election were violently repressed by the security forces.

Some of those who joined the demonstrations against President Lukashenko were also national-level athletes, who were stripped of funding as punishment, cut from national teams and detained.

The Belarusian government has yet to comment on the Polish decision to accept visa for Timanovskaya.

The athlete was due to compete in the women’s 200m event on Monday at the Tokyo Olympics, but she had complained on social media about being entered into the 4x400m relay race at short notice after some teammates were found to be ineligible to compete.

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