A Belarusian Olympic sprinter who feared reprisals at dwelling after criticizing her coaches on the Tokyo Video games says that her grandmother suggested her to not return to Belarus
WARSAW, Poland — A Belarusian Olympic sprinter who feared reprisals at dwelling after criticizing her coaches on the Tokyo Video games mentioned Thursday that her grandmother suggested her to not return to Belarus due to unfavorable reviews about her on tv there.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya left the Video games and arrived in Poland on Wednesday, days after she accused group officers of making an attempt to drive her to fly again to Belarus, the place an authoritarian authorities has relentlessly pursued its critics. She informed reporters Thursday that the officers informed her to say she was injured and needed to go dwelling early, however she refused.
In the meantime, again dwelling, her criticism on social media of how her group was being managed set off a large backlash in state-run media. Her grandmother informed her by cellphone there have been reviews on tv that she was mentally in poor health and mentioned it was greatest for her to not return.
At a information convention Thursday, Tsimanouskaya thanked individuals who supported her in the course of the dramatic standoff.
“It was the entire world, and these folks make me a lot stronger,” she mentioned in Warsaw.
Poland has granted the sprinter a humanitarian visa. A lot of Belarus’ activists have fled to Poland to keep away from a brutal crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s authorities.
In rapid-fire collection of occasions that introduced worldwide drama to the Tokyo Video games, Tsimanouskaya mentioned Belarus group officers hustled her to the airport and tried to ship her dwelling early after she criticized how her group was being managed. She refused to board the aircraft, and European nations which might be vital of Lukashenko’s rule supplied help.
On Wednesday, Tsimanouskaya flew from Tokyo by way of Vienna, a circuitous route that Polish officers indicated was for safety causes.
It’s not clear what’s subsequent for the 24-year-old runner — both in her sporting life or her private one.
She has urged the Worldwide Olympic Committee to look into the dispute and mentioned she hopes to proceed her operating profession. However she added that her precedence could be her personal security. She was anticipated to seem at a information convention in Warsaw later Thursday.
The standoff has drawn extra consideration to Belarus’ uncompromising authoritarian authorities. When the nation was rocked by months of protests following an election that handed Lukashenko a sixth time period however that the opposition and the West noticed as rigged, authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Some 35,000 folks have been arrested and 1000’s of demonstrators crushed. The federal government has additionally focused impartial media and opposition figures.
In an indication of the lengths authorities are prepared to go to silence their critics, Belarus officers diverted a passenger jet to the capital of Minsk in Might and arrested a dissident journalist who was on board.
Whereas Tsimanouskaya’s criticism was aimed toward group officers — she complained that she was scheduled to take part in an occasion she had by no means competed in — her defiance could haven’t sit nicely with political authorities. Lukashenko, who led the Belarus Nationwide Olympic Committee for nearly a quarter-century earlier than handing over the job to his son in February, has a eager curiosity in sports activities, seeing it as a key aspect of nationwide status.
Tsimanouskaya’s husband, Arseni Zdanevich, fled Belarus this week shortly after his spouse mentioned she wouldn’t be returning. Poland has additionally granted him a visa, and he’s anticipated to hitch her.
Observe AP’s protection of Belarus at https://apnews.com/hub/belarus