World Athletics open probe into Belarus athlete incident

Thursday September 30 2021
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This file photo taken on July 30, 2021 shows Belarus' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (left) and Spain's Maria Isabel Perez competing in the women's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Poland has granted a humanitarian visa to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian Olympic athlete who claimed her team tried to force her to leave Japan, Poland's deputy foreign minister said on August 2, 2021. GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP



World Athletics said Thursday it was opening an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarus sprinter who fled from the Tokyo Olympics to Poland.

Tsimanouskaya claims she was forcibly taken to the airport in the Japanese capital after refusing to follow orders during the Games in July, but managed to attract the attention of the Japanese authorities who intervened.

She eventually fled to Poland which has granted her a humanitarian visa.

In the wake of the incident, two Belarus team coaches were suspended.

"The IOC and World Athletics have jointly agreed to continue the investigation and to open a formal procedure vis-à-vis the two aforementioned coaches," World Athletics said in a statement.


"It has been decided that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) - the independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues (both doping-related and non-doping-related) for the sport of athletics - will conduct the procedure, with the full collaboration and support of the IOC."

Tsimanouskaya said she feared for her safety if forced to return to ex-Soviet Belarus that has been in political turmoil since a disputed election last year sparked mass demonstrations.

The regime of Belarus's authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko - who has been in power for close to three decades - has cracked down on all forms of dissent in the aftermath of the opposition protests.