Home Sports Belarus runner faced attempted kidnapping in Tokyo, opposition says

Belarus runner faced attempted kidnapping in Tokyo, opposition says


The Belarusian authorities tried to kidnap athlete Kristina Timanovskaya, according to a member of the country’s opposition, the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF).

The opposition said this happened after the runner was banned from taking part in the Tokyo Olympic Games and attempts were made to fly her back home.

Timanovskaya is now under the protection of the Japanese police.

She said: “I’m safe now”.

The athlete was quoted as saying so by the BSSF.

The 24-year-old had been taken to the airport after making critical remarks about Belarusian sports officials in Tokyo, according to independent Belarusian media.

Timanovskaya had been due to compete in Monday’s 200 metres heats.

However, the Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that the runner had been examined by a doctor and would not take part because of her “emotional-psychological condition.”

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But BSSF published a video on Telegram in which Timanovskaya states that pressure was put on her.

She has added that she was being taken out of the Games and flown out of Japan against her will.

The BSSF said there had been an attempt at a “forcible” departure, in comments on Instagram.

Timanovskaya told the radio station Euroradio in an interview: “They just told me to pack my things and fly home.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday evening that it had spoken to Timanovskaya.

She was with the authorities at the airport.

“She has told us that she feels safe,” the IOC wrote on Twitter.

The IOC and Tokyo’s Organising Committee would continue talks with the athlete, it said.

The IOC had said earlier it was monitoring the case and had asked the Belarusian Olympic Committee (NOC) for clarification.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya welcomed the IOC’s speedy response.

“Grateful to #IOC for the quick reaction to the situation with the Belarusian athlete [Kristina Timanovskaya],” she wrote.

“She has a right to international protection and to continue participation in the Olympics. It is also crucial to investigate Belarus’ NOC violations of athletes’ rights,” she added.

Timanovskaya plans to ask for asylum in Europe, according to the BSSF.

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said on Twitter in the evening that his country was offering Timanovskaya a visa “so that she can receive international protection” with the Czech Republic.

The Czech embassy in Tokyo is also ready to help, he said. “I find the situation surrounding the sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya scandalous,” Kulhanek wrote.

The runner said she suspected other Belarusian athletes could not compete because not enough negative doping samples had been submitted for them.

She had previously been critical of sports officials in authoritarian Belarus.

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