Belarus sprinter says punishment awaited her back home

Tuesday - 03/08/2021 10:38
'For now, the only thing that concerns me is my safety,' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says

A Belarusian Olympic sprinter who had a public feud with officials from her team at the Tokyo Games said Tuesday that authorities "made it clear" she would face punishment if she returned home to an autocratic government that has stifled any criticism.

Waiting to leave Japan to seek refuge in Europe, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she hopes she can continue her career, but for now her safety is the priority.

After she criticized the management of her team on social media, she accused officials of hustling her to the airport and trying to put her on a plane back to Belarus.

In the dramatic standoff, several countries offered her help, and Poland granted her a humanitarian visa Monday. She plans to fly to Warsaw later in the week, according to an activist group that is supporting her.

Team officials "made it clear that, upon return home, I would definitely face some form of punishment," the 24-year-old sprinter told The Associated Press in a video interview from Tokyo. "There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me."

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 Keywords: Europe, The Olympics, Belarus

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