Belarus sprinter: Punishment awaits her at home

NHK -- Aug 04
A Belarusian sprinter who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics has told the Associated Press that officials from her country made it clear that she would face punishment if she did so.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told NHK on Sunday that her coaches tried to force her back to Belarus after she complained on social media about being ordered to compete in an event she had not been scheduled for. She said her comments were seen as criticizing the Belarusian government.

In an online interview with the AP on Tuesday, she said she wants to continue her sporting career because she is still only 24 years old. She added she had planned to take part in at least two more Olympics.

A Polish foreign ministry official tweeted on Monday that Poland had granted a humanitarian visa to Tsimanouskaya.

The athlete is now believed to be in protective custody at the Polish Embassy in Tokyo.

Poland's Ambassador to Japan Pawel Milewski posted a photo of him and the athlete together on Twitter on Tuesday. The tweet reads, "She is doing well and thanks us all for extending a helping hand against those who do not wish her well."

Tsimanouskaya is expected to leave Japan for Poland in the near future.