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Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

  • IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the 24-year-old was "safe and secure" and that the IOC has requested Belarus' National Olympic Committee (NOC) provide a full written report on the matter. "
  • In a video originally posted to Telegram, Tsimanouskaya appealed to the International Olympic Committee for help, saying that team officials were trying to force her to leave the country without her consent ahead of her racing events next week.
  • Tsimanouskaya sought help from the Japanese police at the airport and did not board the flight out of the country. She told Reuters, "I will not return to Belarus."

The big picture: Tsimanouskaya was due to race in the 200-meter heats on Monday and the 4x400 relay on Thursday.

  • The athlete said her removal from the team came after she took to Instagram to criticize "the negligence of our coaches," according to NBC News.
  • She added that she had been added to the 4x400 relay, an event she did not train for, after already arriving in Tokyo, when several other teammates dropped out due to insufficient doping tests, reports the Washington Post.

What they're saying: The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in an official comment Sunday that Tsimanouskaya had been removed from the team due to her "emotional and psychological state," per WashPost.

  • Tsimanouskaya then reposted the comment on her own social media, writing "this is a lie."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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