- BBC News World
Two Belarusian coaches have lost their Olympic credentials after allegedly trying to force athlete Krystina Timanovskaya to leave the Tokyo 2020 games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed that Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich have left the Olympic Village. An investigation is ongoing.
Timanovskaya’s case caught global attention after she refused her team’s orders to fly back to her country.
The athlete is now in Poland, the country that granted her a humanitarian visa.
The case has once again put the spotlight on Belarus, a country that has been ruled by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994. Last year, security forces violently suppressed nationwide protests over his disputed re-election.
Belarus says Timanovskaya was removed from the national team due to her emotional state. But the 24-year-old athlete says that is not true, assuring that she was removed because He spoke on Instagram about the “negligence of (his) coaches.”
In a statement, the IOC said the accreditation of the two coaches had been removed “as an interim measure … in the interest of the welfare of the athletes of the Belarusian National Olympic Committee who are still in Tokyo.”
The agency said an interdisciplinary commission had been established to investigate the incident and that the two coaches “would be given an opportunity to be heard.”
The Belarusian Olympic Committee released its own statement, issued by the state news agency Belta. He said they were working with the IOC to “clarify” the reasons behind their decision, and promised to protect his team from “any form of discrimination.”
The body confirmed that the coaches would return to Belarus soon, but said they “reserve the right to appeal this decision.”
IOC President Thomas Bach told a press conference on Friday that the committee was “happy” that Timanovskaya was safe in Poland, calling what happened to him “deplorable,” the Reuters news agency reported.
Japan’s Foreign Minister said it was “unfair” and “unacceptable” that the Belarusian authorities had pressured the broker to return home, according to Reuters.
Timanovskaya’s departure came after the runner complained on social media about being entered into the 4×400-meter relay race on short notice, after it was discovered that some team members weren’t compatible to compete.
The video generated criticism in state media, and a television channel said he lacked sportsmanship.
Timanovskaya said two coaches broke into his room and asked him to pack his bags immediately to return home. They told him to say he was injured.
In an interview with the BBC, the athlete said she was on her way to the airport last week when her grandmother warned her that it was not safe to return after watching the local news about what happened.
At the airport, Timanovskaya showed officers a translated request for help on her phone in an attempt to prevent her from getting on the plane.
She then received police protection before being transferred to the Polish embassy in Tokyo.
He arrived in Poland last Wednesday.
The mass protests that gripped Belarus last year showed security forces often using violence to break up demonstrations and arrest thousands of people.
Some protesters were national athletes who were arrested, taking away the funds and excluding them from the teams.
But Timanovskaya insisted that she is not “a political girl” and just wants to focus on her political career.
“I don’t know anything about politics. I’ve never been in politics,” he said.
The runner told the BBC that she wanted to return to Belarus, but that it was very dangerous at the moment.
Her husband has fled Belarus and obtained a visa for Poland, but his other relatives are still in the country.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.