Belarus accused of trying to fly athlete home after she criticised coaches

1 August 2021, 16:41 | Updated: 1 August 2021, 16:46

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was taken to the airport in Tokyo on Sunday
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was taken to the airport in Tokyo on Sunday. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Belarus has been accused of attempting to fly an athlete home from the Tokyo Olympic Games against her will after she apparently criticised her coaches.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was seeking answers from the Belarusian Olympic committee (NOC) after reports emerged that Krystsina Tsimanouskaya had been escorted to Haneda Airport by Belarus team officials on Sunday.

It was reported that she was with police at the airport and was seeking help from the IOC, while other reports said she was seeking political asylum.

READ MORE: EU bans Belarus airlines from flying over bloc and using its airports over journalist's arrest

The IOC said: "The IOC has seen the reports in the media, is looking into the situation and has asked the NOC for clarification."

Tsimanouskaya competed in the 100m heats and is listed as a competitor in Monday's 200m heats on the Games' official information site, and as part of the country's 4x400m relay team.

'Belarus is like North Korea in Europe'

It is the latest controversy surrounding Belarus in the run-up to the Games.

There were allegations that the country's Olympic committee had discriminated against athletes who criticised the regime of Aleksander Lukashenko following his re-election as president in August last year.

The president, and his son Viktor who is the president of the Belarusian Olympic committee, were barred by the IOC from attending the Tokyo Games earlier this year.