Speed Reads

Safe Harbor

IOC says Belarus sprinter 'safe and secure' with Japanese, U.N. officials after refusing to leave Tokyo Olympics

Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who says top officials in her country tried to force her to return home from Tokyo on Sunday, is "safe and secure" in the care of Japanese and United Nations refugee officials, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Monday. Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help Tsimanouskaya, 24, but Reuters reports she plans to request asylum in Germany or Austria.

Tsimanouskaya says Belarusian Olympic staff abruptly told her to pack her bags on Sunday, after she publicly criticized Belarus' national coaches. She refused to board the flight and asked the IOC to get involved. The IOC has asked for a full written report on the matter from the Belarusian National Olympic Committee, which said in a statement it had pulled Tsimanouskaya from the Tokyo Olympics due to her "emotional and psychological state." Tsimanouskaya called that statement "a lie." 

Authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has been harshly cracking down on dissent, and Tsimanouskaya suggested he or other top Belarusian officials had ordered or at least approved her attempted abduction. The head of Belarus' NOC, Viktor Lukashenko, is Alexander Lukashenko's son, Reuters reports.