Belarusian Athlete In Poland After Outcry

Thursday, August 5, 2021 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Belarusian athlete who refused orders to fly home early from the Olympics in Tokyo has arrived in Poland and is “happy to be in safety.”

Due to concerns Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, flew through Vienna, Austria, rather than directly to Warsaw, officials said.

Tsimanouskaya said earlier in a statement on social that she was forcibly taken to the airport for criticizing state-backed coaches and voiced fears for her safety in Belarus.

She told reporters Thursday that she was “surprised that the situation became such a political scandal because it started as a sporting issue.” The sprinter stressed that she was “not thinking about political asylum” in member Poland, which granted her a humanitarian visa.

“I just want to pursue my sporting career,” she said, adding that her husband, Arseny Zdanevich, was “already on the road to Poland – he will be here today.”

The Polish government said Zdanevich was also given a humanitarian visa after he fled to on Wednesday.

“I hope we can stay here and I can pursue my career, and he can find work,” Tsimanouskaya said, adding that she was “willing to return to Belarus once I’m sure that I will be safe there.”

Holding up a T-shirt saying, “I just want to run,” Tsimanouskaya revealed that she hoped to compete at two more Olympic Games and vowed to do “everything to get back in shape and continue my career.”

Before leaving Tokyo, the sprinter spent two nights sheltering in the Polish embassy after calling for international help.

Her case underscored mounting international concern about a crackdown on dissent under Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who the U.S. called “’s last dictator.”

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