Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya Speaks Out After Seeking Asylum in Poland

Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya spoke on CBS This Morning about why it's too "dangerous" for her to return to Belarus. She left the Games and landed in Poland with a humanitarian visa.

By Lindsay Weinberg Aug 07, 2021 12:51 AMTags
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Runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is shedding light on her "dangerous" situation after Poland granted her asylum

The Belarusian Olympian, 24, told the Associated Press this week that team officials "made it clear that, upon return home, I would definitely face some form of punishment" after she criticized her coaches (in a since-deleted Instagram post) for allegedly forcing her to compete in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, even though she has never competed in the event. She told the AP, "There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me."

On Aug. 2, Poland's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed his country was offering her asylum. As Marcin Przydacz tweeted, "She has received a humanitarian Visa. Poland will do whatever is necessary to help her continue her sporting career. [Poland] always stands for Solidarity."

Per Al Jazeera, Tsimanouskaya landed in Warsaw, Poland, on Aug. 4 after refusing to travel back home from Tokyo. 

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Jaw-Dropping Photos from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

From Poland, she spoke with CBS This Morning on Friday, Aug. 6, saying she is still worried about her family in Belarus, even though she was able to flee to safety.

"My grandmother, she called me and she said, 'Please don't come back to Belarus.' And that was the reason I go to Poland," Tsimanouskaya shared. 

WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

She continued, "Now I can't come back to Belarus, because for sure now, it's so dangerous for me. I don't know when I can come back to home. It's my country," adding, "I can't come back."

Members of her team tried to send her home after her social media complaints, according to CBS News, but she refused to return to Belarus at the Japanese airport and asked the International Olympic Committee to intervene. 

Earlier this week, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Tsimanouskaya is feeling "safe and secure" and announced an investigation led by the Olympics organizers, per The New York Times.

Ivan Romano/Getty Images

"We have decided to launch, not surprisingly, a formal investigation, which will be led by the IOC administration," he stated at a news conference. "We need to establish the full facts. We need to hear everyone involved. That obviously can take time."

The Belarusian Olympic Committee told the NYT that it removed Tsimanouskaya from the Olympics because of her "emotional and psychological state," and she didn't compete in the 200-meter race on Monday.

Dzmitry Dauhalionak, a leader of Belarus' National Olympic Committee, declined the AP's request for comment.

The IOC had already banned Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and his son, Viktor Lukashenko, who is the president of the Belarusian Olympic Committee, from attending the Games, according to the NYT. The country was still allowed to send 103 team members to compete.

Catch up on all of E!'s 2020 Tokyo Olympics coverage here.