The International Olympic Committee has launched a formal investigation into the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus (NOCRB) after sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya alleged officials from the country had taken her to the airport against her will.
Tsimanouskaya took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday, a day after refusing her team’s orders to board a flight home from the Olympic Games. Warsaw has offered her a humanitarian visa.
24-year-old athlete, had been due to compete in the women’s 200 metre heats on Monday but said that on Sunday she was taken out of her room in the athletes’ village and driven to the airport to board a flight home after criticising team officials.
The Belarusian Olympic committee said Ms Timanovskaya had been taken off the team because of her "emotional and psychological condition". However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Belarus' attempt to force the athlete to leave Japan as "transnational repression".
"Such actions violate the Olympic spirit, are an affront to basic rights, and cannot be tolerated," he said in a tweet.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters the body had spoken to the athlete twice on Monday, that she was in a safe, secure place, and that the IOC needed to know all the facts before taking further action.
“We are expecting and have asked for a report from the National Olympic Committee of Belarus for today,” Adams said, adding the IOC was still gathering the facts.
“We want it today. We have decided to launch a formal investigation. We need to establish the full facts. We need to hear everyone involved.”
The sprinter filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the NOCRB's decision not to let her compete in the race, but the CAS said she "was not able to prove her case to get an interim relief".
Adams declined to comment on the CAS decision, the full reasoning for which is due to be published later today.
NOCRB President Viktor Lukashenko is banned from attending Tokyo 2020, as is his father and former NOCRB head, Alexander Lukashenko, controversially re-elected as President of Belarus last year in elections widely dismissed as neither free or fair.
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