Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who alleged that she was kidnapped by officials from her own team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is safe, according to Games chiefs.
Tsimanouskaya says she was taken to the airport against her will on Sunday in an attempt to forcibly repatriate her after she criticised the team’s management.
The sprinter, 24, raised the alarm by posting a video message and is currently under Japanese police protection after spending the night in a hotel at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
“She assured us and has assured us that she feels safe and secure. She spent the night at an airport hotel in a safe and secure environment,” said Olympic spokesman Mark Adams.
Tsimanouskaya had been due to compete in the women’s 200m, the heats of which took place without her in Tokyo this morning.
She has said she is afraid to return to Belarus, where long-serving authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko is known for cracking down on dissidents.
Tsimanouskaya appealed to the International Olympic Committee for help in a video clip apparently uploaded during her alleged abduction.
“I have been pressured and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent, so I am asking the IOC to intervene,” she said.
Tsimanouskaya is reportedly seeking asylum in Europe. Poland and the Czech Republic have already come forward with offers.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it has asked Belarusian officials for an explanation. The Belarus Olympic Committee is headed by president Lukashenko’s son.
“The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with her and the Japanese authorities to determine the next step in the upcoming days,” spokesman Adams added.