IOC launches investigation into Belarus sprinter case
The International Olympic Committee has launched a formal investigation into allegations that Belarus attempted to force an athlete to return home.
“We need to establish the full facts, that can take time,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the meantime our first concern is for the athlete.”
Krystina Timanovskaya, 24, has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland and is now at its embassy in Tokyo.
She is expected to leave Japan on Wednesday, her supporters have said.
Ms Timanovskaya said she was taken to the airport against her will after criticising coaches, and voiced fears for her safety. Japan’s foreign minister has said the sprinter is now safe.
The IOC has requested that the Belarus National Olympic Committee submit its report on the incident by the end of Tuesday.
Belarus says she was removed from the team because of her emotional state.
However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Belarus’ attempt to force the athlete to leave Japan as “transnational repression”.
“Such actions violate the Olympic spirit, are an affront to basic rights, and cannot be tolerated,” he said in a tweet.
Speaking to the BBC from Ukraine after fleeing Belarus, Ms Timanovskaya’s husband Arseniy Zdanevich rejected Belarusian reports about his wife’s mental health, saying her psychological state was “normal”.
He added that the couple had never been involved in politics and would return to Belarus if they did not face criminal charges.
Separately on Monday, the head of an organisation helping Belarusians fleeing abroad was reported missing in Ukraine. Vitaly Shishov had reportedly been followed recently.