Belarusian Olympic athlete granted asylum after refusing to return home

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A Belarusian Olympic athlete, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, has been granted a Polish visa after refusing to board a flight home due to concerns over her safety.

On Sunday, the 24-year-old was at the centre of a standoff at Tokyo’s main airport after she alleged that she was being pressured into returning to Belarus by some of their Olympic team officials.

Tsimanouskaya had initially complained on social media about the decision by Belarus’ Olympic team to enter her in the women’s 4×400 metre relay, even though she had not trained for the event.

‘It turns out our great bosses as always decided everything for us,’ she posted on Instagram.

‘They decided to do everything behind my back, despite the fact that I tried to find out this information, but received only an ignore.

‘Believe me, even though I have never run 400m, I would be ready to support the team and the girls and go on the same track with them, BUT, I believe that higher people should have respect for us as athletes and sometimes ask for our opinion!’

Tsimanouskaya’s husband, Arseniy Zdanevich has since fled Belarus and is currently in Kyiv, Ukraine.

‘I didn’t think it would get this serious,’ he told Sky News.

‘I made the decision to leave without thinking twice.

‘We never had any connections, never supported the opposition. We’re just normal sports people, we’re just devoted to sports and we’re not interested in the opposition movement’

Tsimanouskaya arrived at the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday and has now been granted a visa.

Marcin Przydacz, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, told The Times that Tsimanouskaya was ‘under protection and in the territory of the Polish embassy, where she will remain as long as need be’.

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