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Belarus athlete walks into Poland embassy for asylum

Belarus athlete walks into Poland embassy for asylum Christina Timanovskaya, 24, is at the Polish embassy in Tokyo after spending the night in a hotel under the protection of Japanese police.

He said he was forcibly taken to the airport for criticizing the coaches and threatened for his safety.

Belarus says he has been removed from the team due to his mental condition.

Belarus athlete walks into Poland embassy for asylum Ms Timanovskaya told the BBC on Monday she was safe, but said she had been advised not to give further details at this stage.

The incident has revived Belarus, which has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. Last year, security forces violently suppressed protests across the country in the wake of his controversial re-election.

Some of those who joined the protest were national-level athletes, whose funds were snatched, dropped from the national team and detained.

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Prizidakz said Ms Timanovskaya was in direct contact with Polish diplomats in Tokyo and that Poland “would do everything possible to help her continue her sporting life.”

Her husband fled to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. According to the Warsaw-based Belarusian opposition politician, he is ready to join him in Poland.

The Belarussian government has not yet commented on the Polish decision.

Krystina Timanovskaya walks with her luggage inside the Polish embassy in Tokyo
Source of images
The caption sprinter was photographed inside the Polish embassy in Tokyo.
The sprinter, who was scheduled to compete in the women’s 200-meter event on Monday, complained on social media that after entering a short notice in the 4×400-meter relay competition, it was discovered that some teammates did not qualify to be competitors.

The video was criticized in the state media and a television station said it lacked “team spirit”.

Timanovskaya said officers went to his room and gave him an hour to pack before he was taken to Haneda Airport in Tokyo. He said team officials “pressured” him to return home and sought help from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“They are trying to take me out of the country without my permission,” he said in a video posted on the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation’s telegram channel last year in support of athletes critical of the government.

Anatole Kotau, a member of the group, told the BBC on Sunday: “She is afraid of repression from her family in Belarus; this is a major concern for her at the moment.”

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya surrounded by police
Image source
Photo caption The athlete sought police protection at the airport terminal.
The Belarusian Olympic Committee said Ms Tymanovskaya had been removed from the team due to her “mental and emotional condition”.

The team’s coach, Yuri Moisevich, said Ms Timanovskaya seemed anxious when she spoke to him on Sunday.

“I was trying to have a quiet conversation with him and I succeeded,” he added, “then I noticed that he would stop the conversation and start again, then he would pick up the phone and I saw that something was going on.”

On Monday, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the agency had taken action against the Belarusian committee during the Games.

He banned some officials, including the president’s son, for failing to protect athletes who joined the protests.

Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said the country’s sports administration was under “direct government control” under President Lukashenko.

“Athletes are biased by the state and respected by society, and it’s not surprising that those athletes see themselves as the target of revenge,” he said.

Belarus athlete walks into Poland embassy for asylum

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