Great Britain

Belarusian Olympic sprinter ‘forced to return home’ after publicly criticising national coaches in alleged kidnapping

A BELARUSIAN Olympic sprinter was "forced to return home" in an alleged kidnapping after she publicly criticised her national coaches.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who was due to compete in the women's 200m race on Monday, said she'd sought the protection of Japanese police at Tokyo's Haneda airport.

Officials allegedly bundled the 24-year-old female sprinter to the airport in Tokyo to try to force her back home today.

She did not plan to return to Belarus and tried to not board the flight, Reuters reports, and she added: "I will not return to Belarus."

The Olympian recorded an appeal today, saying: "I am asking the International Olympic Committee for help.

"I have been pressured and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent, so I am asking the IOC to intervene."

Tsimanouskaya said that coaching staff had come to her room on Sunday and told her to pack up - before taking her to the airport.

She was set to run in the 200m and 4x400m Olympic relay on Thursday. 

Journalists reported that Belarusian state media launched a campaign against her after she criticised Belarus national team's management on Friday.  

Reports now say that she is trying to apply for asylum in Austria after speaking with the Japanese airport police.


Journalist Hanna Liubakova said on Twitter: "It's been reported that Kryscina Tsimanouskaya, who publicly criticized the regime and sports officials, is being sent from Tokyo back to Belarus. 

"Apparently, representatives of the Belarusian national team took her to the airport. It looks like kidnapping."

Later posting a video of the athlete at the airport, she wrote: "Tsimanouskaya was accompanied to the airport by two members of the Belarusian sports delegation. 

"She is now with the police and volunteers. When asked if she was afraid to fly to #Belarus, Tsimanouskaya answered 'yes.'"

Before today's alleged ordeal, Tsimanouskaya had complained that she was entered in the 4x400m relay at the last minute.

This was because some members of the team were allegedly found to be ineligible to compete at the Olympics after failing to complete enough doping tests.

Tsimanouskaya told Reuters at the airport: "Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn't have enough doping tests.

"And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge.

"I spoke about this publicly.

"The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me."

Haneda police said there was no one immediately available to comment.

Team GB take silver in swimming 4x100m medley relay in superb display at Tokyo 2020

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