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Belarusian athlete applies for asylum in Poland

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya decided to use the application path for the so-called humanitarian visa. The visa will be issued to her today. On the basis of this visa, she will be able to fly to Warsaw in the coming days, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, the deputy head of Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, commenting on the case of the Belarusian athlete, who has refused to return to belarus from the Olympic Games in Tokyo and is now pursued by the country’s regime after publicly criticising it.

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Earlier on Monday, Reuters agency, quoting a member of the local Belarus community, reported that Tsimanouskaya had entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo in order to start the procedure of applying for political asylum in Poland.

“The sprinter pulled up in front of the embassy in an unmarked silver van about 5 pm local time (8 am GMT). She stepped out with her official team luggage, and then greeted two officials before entering the premises,” the agency wrote, adding that “two women, one carrying the red and white flag considered the symbol of opposition in Belarus, came to the gates to support her.”

Vadim Krivosheev from the Belarusian Sport Solidarity foundation reported that the visa she is applying for in the embassy will allow her to apply for political asylum in Poland.

He also announced that the foundation bought a ticket from Tokyo to Warsaw on August 4 for Tsimanouskaya

“The athlete reported to our embassy in Tokyo, was accepted there, and was also received by our ambassador. She was immediately looked after by our diplomatic and consular services,” Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, the deputy head of Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told journalists on Monday.

“She was instructed… she decided to use the application path for the so-called humanitarian visa. This visa will be issued to her today. On the basis of this visa, she will be able to fly to Warsaw in the coming days,” he reported.

Tsimanouskaya was ordered by the country’s authorities to return to Minsk after she published a video on social media in which she criticised the actions of Belarusian sports activists. Earlier, after the rigged elections in the country in August last year, she also signed a letter by athletes outraged by the brutality of the Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

The athlete publicly blamed the national sports activists for two Belarusian runners, who were initially supposed to run in the relay race, not being allowed to start because they had undergone too few anti-doping tests before the Olympics.

In response to her criticism, the Belarusian authorities ordered the runner to return to the country. The Belarusian Olympic Committee also announced in a statement that coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors’ advice about her “emotional, psychological state.”

The athlete refused to board the aeroplane and remained in Tokyo.

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