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Prague Offers Asylum to Belarusian Sprinter Timanovskaya, Promises to Help

© REUTERS / ISSEI KATOBelarusian sprinter Krystina Tsimanouskaya talks with police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan
Belarusian sprinter Krystina Tsimanouskaya talks with police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.08.2021
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PRAGUE (Sputnik) - The Japanese authorities confirmed to the Czech Republic that Belarusian Olympic sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya received Prague's asylum offer, Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said on Monday, stressing that his country is willing to help.
"Representatives of the Japanese authorities have just confirmed to us that Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya has received our offer to grant asylum. If she accepts it, we will provide maximum assistance. The Olympic Games should not be associated with politics, actions of the regime [of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko] are simply shameful," Kulhanek wrote on Twitter.
The Austrian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Belarusian Olympic sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya, who refuses to fly back to her homeland, did not get in contact with the embassy in Tokyo to request asylum.
"We are aware of the media reports, but this athlete did not get in touch with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo. In general, the foreign ministry states that a request for asylum can only be filed directly and only in the country, in this case in Austria," the foreign ministry explained.
The Japanese government is aware of the incident involving Kristina Tsimanouskaya, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Monday, confirming that the athlete is safe.
Kato told journalists that Tsimanouskaya has the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the organizers of the Tokyo Games and that the Japanese government is interacting with all the organizations involved.
Tsimanouskaya released a video via social media on Sunday claiming that Belarusian authorities were "forcibly" trying to make her return to her home country. She asked the IOC to intervene. The National Olympic Committee of Belarus said that the coaching staff of the Belarusian athletics team decided to send the sprinter home due to her emotional and psychological state.
Tsimanouskaya herself claimed that the Belarusian Olympic Committee had decided to send her back to Belarus because she complained on Instagram about getting scheduled to run in the 4x400m relay, after some members of the Belarusian team were found to be ineligible to compete due to insufficient doping testing.
The Belarusian opposition Sports Solidarity Fund said that Tsimanouskaya wanted to seek asylum in Europe as she was allegedly being forced to leave Tokyo without her consent. Several countries have reportedly offered to provide political protection to the Belarusian athlete.
IOC Spokesman Mark Adams told reporters on Monday that Tsimanouskaya had spent the night at an airport hotel in Tokyo and was now safe and under the protection of local authorities.
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