WLAn activist group supporting Tsimanoskaya said the athlete believed her life would be in danger in Belarus and had applied for asylum at the Austrian embassy in Tokyo.
Tsimanoskaya said in a video message posted on social media that she found herself “under pressure” from her team leaders and asked for help from the International Olympic Committee.
“I was pressured and they tried to force me to leave the country without my consent,” said the 24-year-old runner.
Tsimanoskaya, who was due to compete in the women’s 200m on Monday, criticized the Belarus national team captains on her Instagram account. She said that she entered the 4x400m relay even though she had never competed in the event.
The Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation (BSSF) said government supporters had targeted the athlete who had contacted the foundation to avoid forcible deportation to Minsk.
“The campaign was serious and it was a clear indication that his life was in danger in Belarus,” Alexander Obikin, a spokesman for the activist group, said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Tsimanoskaya contacted Japanese police at Haneda Airport and did not board a flight to Istanbul. Ubeken said State Department officials then arrived at the airport.
In a statement issued by BSSF, Tsimanoskaya said he was at a police station early Monday morning.
“I explained the situation to an officer and described how I was taken from the Olympic Village,” Tsimanskaya said. I am now in a safe position and trying to solve a problem where I will be able to spend the night.”
The IOC, which had disputes with the Belarus National Olympic Committee (CNOB) ahead of the Tokyo Games, said it had intervened.
“The International Olympic Committee (…) is investigating the situation and has requested clarification from the CNOB,” Olympic officials said in a statement.
The CNOB has been led for more than 25 years by the authoritarian head of state Alexander Lukashenko and his son Viktor.
Two Lukashenkos have been banned from the Tokyo Olympics as the International Olympic Committee investigates complaints from athletes that they are victims of retaliation and intimidation for protesting last August after the presidential election.
A CNOB spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ubikin said Tsimanoskaya had been moved to a safe place and was planning to seek asylum at the Austrian embassy.
Tsimanoskaya finished fourth in his qualifying 100-meter race on Friday and did not qualify for the semi-finals. With the Associated Press
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