Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya, who competes in Tokyo, released a video on Sunday asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to help her avoid returning to her native country.
“I was put under pressure and they are trying to force me out of the country without my consent. I ask IOC to intervene,” she says in the short video released on social media.
According to Anatol Kotau of the Belarus Sports Solidarity Foundation, Timnovskaya was told she would no longer be able to compete for Belarus and would have to return to Minsk immediately.
The group represents Belarusian athletes repressed by the Belarusian authorities.
Kotau, who is in direct contact with Timanovskaya, said that on Sunday, around 3 a.m. Tokyo time, representatives of the Belarus national team came to the Olympic Village and told them to “pack their belongings as it was decided to return to Minsk.” “
Speaking to CNN over the phone, Kotau said that Timanovskaya is currently at the Haneda International Airport police station.
According to Kotau, Timanovskaya was scheduled to fly to Istanbul by TK0199, which would depart at 10:50 pm local time.
As soon as Timnovskaya arrived at the airport, Kotau said, she contacted a Japanese police officer and said she wanted to apply for political asylum.
In an Instagram post on 30 July, she said that she was shortlisted to compete in the 4x400m relay without her consent. “I would never in my life initiate such a harsh reaction if they came up to me in advance, explained the situation and found out if I could run 400 meters and I was ready? But they tried to do everything behind my back. Decided, despite the fact that I tried to find out this information, but they were simply ignored. ”
The International Olympic Committee told CNN in a statement: “The IOC has seen reports in the media, is looking into the situation and has sought clarification from the NOC (National Olympic Committee of Belarus).”
CNN has reached out to the Belarus Olympic Committee for comment. CNN has also tried to reach out to Timanovskaya herself. CNN has not received any comment from either party.