Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who refused to return to her country for fear of repression, said Thursday that she was “happy to be safe in Poland”. As part of its investigation, the IOC suspended two coaches from the selection of Belarus.
“I just want to run.”For her first words, Thursday, August 5, since her incredible departure from Tokyo, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya could not have worn a more appropriate T-shirt. Indeed, this slogan can be both translated as “I just want to run” as she stated, but also “I just want to run away”, as she did after her criticism of the sports bodies of her country.
Threatened with forced repatriation to Belarus after criticising her country’s Olympic committee over Tokyo Olympics dispute, the 24-year-old arrived on Wednesday, via Vienna, Poland, country which granted him a vhumanitarian isa.
“I just want to continue my sports career,” Tsimanouskaya further asserted, adding that her husband, Arseny Zdanevich, who fled to Ukraine and also obtained a humanitarian visa in Poland, was “already on his way” to join her on Thursday. She said she hoped to participate in two more editions of the Olympic Games.
The sprinter had claimed Sunday to have escaped a forced repatriation to Belarus, a few days after openly criticizing the Athletics Federation of her country. Fearing that she would end up in prison if she returned to Belarus, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya obtained the help of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and police protection while at Tokyo-Haneda Airport. She then refugee two nights at the Polish embassy in the Japanese capital.
Two accreditations withdrawn
On Friday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it had withdrawn the accreditations of two coaches from the Belarusian delegation.
“A disciplinary commission was set up by the IOC in connection with the Krystsina Tsimanouskaya case to clarify the circumstances of what happened and the role played by coaches Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich,” the Olympic body explained on its Twitter account. “In the interest of the athletes of the Belarusian Olympic Committee who are still in Tokyo and on a provisional basis, the IOC last night cancelled and withdrew the accreditations of Mr. A. Shimak and Y. Maisevich.”
In the interest of the wellbeing of the athletes of the NOC of Belarus who are still in Tokyo and as a provisional measure, the IOC cancelled and removed last night the accreditations of the two coaches, Mr A. Shimak and Mr Y. Maisevich. # Tokyo2020 # Olympics /2
– IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) August 5, 2021
“The two coaches were asked to leave the Olympic Village with immediate effect, which they did. They were offered the opportunity to be heard,” the text concludes.
IOC President Thomas Bach said Friday afternoon in Tokyo, during his press conference-review of the OLYMPICS-2020, that “the procedure continues”:”it is not over, the disciplinary commission will take the appropriate sanctions and decisions”.
“We are not in a position to change the political system in a country, that is not our mission. Our responsibility is to protect athletes as best as possible, to sanction and keep away from the Games those who do not respect our values,” he replied to a journalist who asked him about the particular case of Belarus, already sanctioned in the past by the IOC.
Belarus has been rocked by political upheaval and a crackdown on the opposition after a disputed presidential election.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was among the more than 2,000 personalities Belarusian sportswomen who had signed an open letter calling for new elections and the release of political prisoners.
But her problems in Tokyo came after she posted a message on her Instagram account where she criticized her coaches for registering her for a race without informing her beforehand.
“My parents told me that they said bad about me on television (Belarusian, editor’s note). I received a lot of negative messages, but I received even more messages of support,” she said. “I am very worried about my parents, especially since my father has a heart problem and it has worsened in recent days,” she said.