Status: 02.08.2021 11:35 a.m.
Poland and the Czech Republic have offered the Belarusian Olympic runner Timanowskaja asylum. After spending the night in an airport hotel in a “safe environment”, according to the IOC, she is now in the Polish embassy.
The Belarusian Olympic participant Kristina Timanowskaja, who claims to be forced to return to Belarus, can hope for asylum in the European Union. The athlete entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo in front of the cameras on Monday after the governments in Warsaw and Prague offered her visas.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote on Twitter on Sunday evening that his country was ready to help. “She has the free choice to continue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses.” The Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek had previously made an offer of help. France’s European Minister Clement Beaune had also spoken out in favor of political asylum for the 24-year-old in the EU. “That would be an honor for Europe,” he told RFI.
Sent home after criticizing officials
Timanovskaya was supposed to run 200 meters in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo today, but the National Olympic Committee of Belarus banned the athlete after criticizing association officials and wanted to send her home immediately.
In a video published on Sunday by the Belarusian athletes’ association Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF), she said she had been flown out of Japan against her will.
Timanovskaya said she was accused of publicly criticizing Belarusian sports officials. However, she asked the Japanese police for protection. The BSSF spoke of an attempted “violent” exit.
The Belarusian NOK had declared that the athlete would be eliminated from the competition on medical advice because of her “emotional and psychological state”. Timanovskaya called this a “lie” on Instagram. She hasn’t even been examined.
Spent night at the airport hotel
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Timanovskaya spent the night “safely and securely” in a hotel at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said employees of the Japanese organizing committee were with her. “The IOC in Tokyo is still in talks with her, the Japanese authorities will keep us informed of the next steps.”
IOC officials would “speak to her again to see what she wants to do and we will assist her in making that decision,” said Adams. The UN refugee agency UNHCR was also involved in the case.
Adams said they had also requested a written report from the NOC in their country. First of all, the exact background and details of the incident would have to be awaited. According to Adams, the sprinter belonged to a group of 16 Belarusian athletes who were supposed to fly home on Sunday. Because of the corona virus, athletes have to leave the Olympic Village no later than two days after their competitions.
Tense relations with the IOC
The Belarusian regime under President Alexander Lukashenko has been cracking down on critics for a long time. Months of protests against the allegedly falsified presidential election results a year ago led to months of protests and arrests.
In December, the IOC excluded Lukashenko and his son Viktor from all Olympic events. The committee responded to complaints from Belarusian athletes who feel they have been discriminated against in their country because of their support for the opposition.
In March, the IOC also did not recognize Viktor Lukashenko’s appointment as chairman of the Belarusian NOK. He had replaced his father, who had headed the committee since 1967.
Whirlwind of Belarusian sportswoman
Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Tokyo, August 2nd, 2021 11:40 am