WARSAW, KOMPAS.com – Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian runner who was expelled by her own country’s Olympic team, has been granted asylum in Poland.
On Thursday (5/8/2021) he said he was relieved to be under protection in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.
Previously he had worried about his safety if he followed orders to return to Belarus.
Read also: Japan protects Belarus athletes after being expelled by their Olympic team, other countries offer asylum
The 24-year-old athlete became the world’s attention in the midst of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after being forced home on Sunday (1/8/2021) by his country for criticizing his coaching team.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was then forced to board a plane, but upon arrival at the airport she was given Japanese protection.
“I’m also happy to be here, happy to be in safety,” he told reporters in Warsaw after a transit in Vienna, Austria.
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Tsimanouskaya said, “Shocked that the situation became a political scandal because it started with a sporting problem”.
He also said his thoughts were not about political asylum in Poland which had given him a humanitarian visa.
“I just want to pursue my sports career,” she said, adding that her husband, Arseny Zdanevich, was already on his way to Poland.
“He will be here today,” he continued AFP.
Also read: Belarusian Athletes’ Chronology is Protected by Japan When Forced to Return from the Tokyo Olympics
The Polish government said Zdanevich had also been granted a humanitarian visa after he fled to Ukraine on Wednesday (4/8/2021).
Before leaving Tokyo, Tsimanouskaya spent two nights sheltering in the Polish embassy and then asked for international help.
Belarus has been beset by political upheaval and a crackdown on protesters, after Alexander Lukashenko won again in a disputed election last year.
Tsimanouskaya is one of more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures who signed an open letter calling for new elections and the release of political prisoners.
His troubles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics came after he posted on his Instagram criticizing his coach for including him in the relay without notifying him.
“My parents told me they said bad things about me on television. I got a lot of bad messages but got more messages of support,” Tsimanouskaya told reporters.
Also read: Athlete of Belarus who was expelled from the Olympic team admits that he will be punished if he returns to his country