Olympic Belarus sprinter seeks asylum in Poland

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Krystina Timanovskaya
epa07680569 Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus reacts after winning the women's 100m race of the Dynamic New Athletics final at the Minsk 2019 European Games in the Dinamo Stadium in Minsk, Belarus, 28 June 2019. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

A sprinter from Belarus who refused her team’s order to fly home early from the Olympics is seeking asylum in Poland, activists say.

Krystina Timanovskaya spent the night secured in a hotel under protection from Japanese police, after saying she was forcibly taken to the airport for criticizing coaches.

She voiced fears for her safety if she were to be returned to her country.

Belarus says she was removed from the team because of her emotional state.

Ms Timanovskaya, 24, was pictured entering the Polish embassy in Tokyo today after arriving in an unmarked silver van.

An opposition group which helps athletes in Belarus said
Ms Timanovskaya was seeking asylum in Poland.

The Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation was created last year to support athletes during the nationwide protests over the disputed re-election of long-time President Alexander Lukashenko.