Belarus athlete seeking asylum after officials tried to force her onto plane in Tokyo

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Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a sprinter, said she sought help from Japanese police at the city’s Haneda airport to avoid being forced onto the aircraft bound for the former Soviet nation. She had been due to compete in the women’s 200 metres race tomorrow when coaching staff knocked on her door and ordered her to pack her bags.

In a message to reporters over Telegram, she said: “I will not return to Belarus.”

In a video recorded at the airport, she urged the International Olympics Committee to assist her.

She said: “I am asking the International Olympic Committee for help.

“I have been pressured and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent, so I am asking the IOC to intervene.”

According to Belarus journalist Tadeusz Giczan, she wants to apply for asylum in Austria.

He said the Belarusian media responded by conducting a hate campaign against her.

He said: “On Friday after she criticised Belarus national team’s management the regime media started a ‘you are a disgrace to your nation’ campaign against her.

“She said she’s now afraid to return to Belarus but the officials took her to the Tokyo airport by force.”

The 24-year-old had previously posted a video on Instagram claiming coaches had entered her into this Thursday’s 400m relay at short notice.

She said they have done this because some teammates were found to be ineligible to compete because they had not undergone a sufficient amount of doping tests.

She alleged that authorities had removed her from the team because she “spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches”.

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Speaking from the airport, she said: “Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400m relay because they didn’t have enough doping tests.

“And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly.

“The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me.”

The Belarus Olympic Team said Ms Tsimanouskaya had lost her place on the squad due to her “emotional and psychological condition”.

They said she would not be allowed to compete in either the 200m race or the 400m relay event.

The runner remains at Haneda airport after seeking help from police.

Photos emerged of the young woman wearing an Olympic pass on a lanyard around her neck.

Two police officers could be seen walking beside her pulling her luggage.

Haneda police said there was no one immediately available to comment.

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