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Belarusian Sprinter Says She Was Taken to Airport Against Her Wishes After Criticizing Coaches

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 8/1/2021 Andrew Gastelum
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Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said was taken to the airport in Tokyo against her wishes after she made comments criticizing her national team coaches.

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Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told Reuters that she was taken to the airport in Tokyo against her will after she publicly criticized her national team's coaches.

Tsimanouskaya was expected to compete in the women's 200m event and the 4x400m relay before she was told to pack and was escorted to the airport to board a flight back to Belarus on Sunday. Tsimanouskaya then reportedly sought out airport police at Tokyo's Haneda airport in an attempt to avoid boarding the flight.

The sprinter said that she won't return to Belarus and that she was removed from the team due "to the fact that I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches." 

"Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn't have enough doping tests," Tsimanouskaya told Reuters. "And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me."

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches chose to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from Tokyo on doctors' advice regarding her "emotional, psychological state."

Reuters also reported that a source at the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation said Tsimanouskaya is planning to request asylum in Germany or Austria on Monday. Tsimanouskaya also said that she had reached out to members of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to retrieve her at the airport.

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