Fleeing Belarusian Olympian To Speak In Poland As IOC Seeks Answers From Belarus.

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya will address reporters on August 5 after arriving in Warsaw overnight under Polish diplomatic protection ahead of an expected asylum request.

The 24-year-old sprinter has been seeking international assistance since refusing her national team’s effort to force her onto a plane home from the Tokyo Games after she criticized Belarusian Olympic coaches on social media.

She has said she fears for her safety in Belarus, and her husband has since fled the country and is expected to join her abroad.

Belarus's EU neighbor, Poland, has granted the pair humanitarian visas and has pledged to ensure their safety.

Tsimanouskaya's plight became a major story from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and refocused international attention on repression in Belarus since protests erupted when Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed victory in a disputed presidential election one year ago.

Lukashenka's son Viktar took over leadership of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee recently from his father in a move that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not recognize.

Other Belarusian athletes, including a former Olympic medalist decathlete and his wife, have reportedly fled life in Belarus since Tsimanouskaya's ordeal began and after Ukraine announced a murder investigation when an exiled Lukashenka critic was found dead this week in Kyiv.

Tsimanouskaya took refuge in the Polish Embassy in Tokyo on August 2 after refusing to allow Belarusian team officials to force her onto a flight to Minsk.

The IOC has reportedly demanded an explanation from Belarus and is "setting up interviews" with Belarus team members, presumably including two officials who were allegedly involved in trying to force Tsimanouskaya out of Tokyo.

The IOC identified those officials as Artur Shumak and Yury Maisevich.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the disciplinary process that formally opened on August 6 is “determining who needs to be heard.”

Tsimanouskaya told AP in Japan that team officials had “made it clear that, upon return home, I would definitely face some form of punishment.”

She said the tipping point for her was when team managers told her that “other people” had ordered them to send her home from the Olympics and they were “merely ordered to make it happen.”

The head of Belarus's delegation at the Olympics, Dzmitry Dauhalionak, declined to comment, except to say that he has “no words,” according to the AP.

Earlier, Belarus’s National Olympic Committee told a state-run news agency that it was closely monitoring the situation and cooperating with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has launched an investigation into Tsimanouskaya’s accusations.

Tsimanouskaya dismissed any notion that she had planned to seek a way to depart to a third country and said she was not trying to be "political."

“I don’t want to get involved in politics," she told the AP. "For me, my career is important, only sports is important, and I’m only thinking about my future, about how I can continue my career.”

With reporting by RFE/RL's Belarus Service, AFP, AP, and Reuters

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