Photo: ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL / REUTERS
Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is said to have been flown home early from the Tokyo Olympics against her will after publicly criticizing her country's sports officials.
Several media reported on Sunday evening (local time) that the athlete was brought to the airport by representatives of the national team.
Tsimanouskaya, 24, who was due to compete in the women's 200-meter run on Monday, told Reuters that she had no plans to return to her country.
She sought the protection of the Japanese police at Tokyo's Haneda Airport in order not to have to take the flight.
A video from Tokyo Airport showing several Olympic volunteers and police officers spread on Twitter.
Tsimanouskaya is said to have answered "yes" to the question of whether she was afraid of flying to Belarus.
"I ask the IOC to get involved"
"I ask the International Olympic Committee for help," Tsimanouskaya also says on a video that the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation published on Telegram;
the group supports athletes who are persecuted for their political views.
“There is pressure on me.
They are trying to take me out of the country without my permission.
I ask the IOC to get involved. "
Tsimanouskaya reportedly said coaches came into her room on Sunday and told her to pack.
She was removed from the team and taken to the airport "because I talked about the negligence of our coaches on Instagram."
Tsimanouskaya had previously complained that she was used in the 4x400 meter relay after some members of the team were not eligible to compete in the Olympics because they had not undergone enough doping tests.
As a result, there was apparently a campaign against her in the Belarusian media.
"Some of our girls didn't fly here to take part in the 4x400 meter relay because they didn't pass enough drug tests," Tsimanouskaya told the news agency at the airport.
“And the trainer accepted me into the squadron without my knowledge.
I've spoken about it publicly.
The head coach came up to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me. "
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya had already taken part in the preliminaries over 100 meters on Friday and should also start on Monday over the 200 meters.
ara / rtr