The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched a formal investigation into allegations Belarus attempted to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to return home from the Tokyo Games.
Key points:

  • The 24-year-old is in the Polish embassy ahead of her departure for Warsaw
  • The IOC is awaiting a report from Belarus Olympic officials
  • US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says Belarus’s actions “violate the Olympic spirit”

The 24-year-old is now at Poland’s embassy in the Japanese capital, having been granted a humanitarian visa.
It is expected she will depart Japan on Wednesday for Warsaw.
Tsimanouskaya said she was taken to the airport against her will on Sunday after criticising coaches, and voiced fears for her safety.
The IOC said it was waiting for a report from the Belarusian National Olympic Committee on the incident that has rocked the Games.
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“We want [the report] today,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.
Tsimanouskaya spoke with police officers after allegedly being taken to Haneda Airport against her will on Sunday.(Reuters: Issei Kato
“We need to hear everyone involved.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blasted Belarus’s attempt to send Tsimanouskaya home.
“Such actions violate the Olympic spirit, are an affront to basic rights, and cannot be tolerated,” Mr Blinken wrote on Twitter.
Asked whether an IOC decision on the matter would come during the Games, Mr Adams said it was not possible to estimate how long the investigation would take.
“We need to establish the full facts. That can take time,” he said.
“How long that will take, I do not know.
“In the meantime, our first concern is for the athlete.”
A supporter of the sprinter in Tokyo holds a flag associated with Belarus’s opposition movement.(Reuters: Kim Kyung-Hoon
Tsimanouskaya had been due to compete in the women’s 200m heats on Monday.
The incident has focused attention on Belarus, where police have cracked down on dissent following a wave of protests triggered by the election last year which the opposition says was rigged to keep President Alexander Lukashenko in power.
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In March, the IOC refused to recognise the election of Mr Lukashenko’s son Viktor as head of the country’s Olympic committee.
Both father and son were banned from attending the Games last December.

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