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Belarus Olympic sprinter who refused to be sent back to her country enters Poland embassy in Japan

Belarus, a former Soviet state, is run with a tight grip by President Alexander Lukashenko.

Updated: August 2, 2021 - 8:18am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Belarus sprinter in the Tokyo Olympic games who refused this past weekend to board a flight home on Monday entered a Polish embassy in Japan.

The athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, has told at least one person in her home country that she intends to seek asylum in Poland, according to Reuters. Polish consular officials did not respond to the wire service’s requests for confirmation or comment.

However, Polish foreign ministry official Marcin Przydacz has tweeted Tsimanouskaya has been "offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses."

It’s clear whether the situation is related to discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state that is run with a tight grip by President Alexander Lukashenko.

The sprinter, set to compete in the women's 200 meter heats Monday, said she was taken to the airport Sunday night to board a Turkish Airlines flight.

She told Reuters the Belarusian head coach came to her room Sunday at the athletes village and told her she had to leave.

But she refused to board the flight and sought the protection of Japanese police at the airport.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the games on doctors' advice about her "emotional, psychological state."

Belarus athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich told state television he "could see there was something wrong with her... She either secluded herself or didn't want to talk."

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