Poland grants humanitarian visa to Belarusian sprinter, dep FM

Earlier in the day, a source told Reuters that Tsimanouskaya had entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo in order to obtain political asylum in Poland. SERGEY DOLZHENKO/PAP/EPA

A Polish deputy foreign minister has stated that Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland.

"Tsimanouskaya is in direct contact with Polish diplomats in Tokyo and has already received a humanitarian visa," deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz wrote on Twitter. He also promised that Poland would do everything to help the sprinter continue her sports career.

"Poland always stands for Solidarity," he stated.

Earlier in the day, another Polish deputy foreign minister announced that Tsimanouskaya would arrive in Warsaw in the coming days.

According to the International Olympic Committee, Tsimanouskaya, who had refused to board a plane in Tokyo after she was taken to the airport against her will for her critical remarks regarding a coach team, is 'safe and sound' in Tokyo.

"The sportswoman was admitted at the Polish embassy in Tokyo and was met by the Polish ambassador. She has been immediately taken care of by our diplomatic and consular services," Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said on Monday confirming that the sprinter had already walked into the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

Asked whether her travel to Poland would be organised by the Polish side, Szynkowski vel Sęk said that Polish diplomatic services were in contact with the local Belarusian community, which suggested that it could buy an airplane ticket for the sprinter.

"Of course, we are ready to help Tsimanouskaya travel to Poland. We will surely secure a safe flight to our country," the official said.

Earlier in the day, a source told Reuters that Tsimanouskaya had entered the Polish embassy in Tokyo in order to obtain political asylum in Poland.

Another source quoted by the NHK Japanese television stated that Poland had already started the procedure of granting asylum to Tsimanouskaya, who has refused to return to her homeland from the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

"After she had been told what she could do, she decided to apply for a humanitarian visa. She will be granted the visa today, and she will be able to go to Warsaw in the coming days," the deputy foreign minister added.

Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reported that the Belarusian embassy in Tokyo had officially requested the Japanese authorities to inform it about the situation of the athlete.

Belarusian state mass media on Monday sharply criticised Tsimanouskaya, accusing her of ingratitude and an attempt to hide her weak physical condition behind an international scandal.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee issued a communique in which it wrote that, in accordance with a decision made by physicians, Tsimanouskaya was to be withdrawn from the Olympics due to her "emotional and psychological condition."

Several days ago, the sprinter criticised her coaches for their negligence, due to which three Belarusian sprinters had not been allowed to enter the Olympics, and for their decision to put her in the 4x400 relay despite never racing the event. Tsimanouskaya was due to run in the Olympic 100-metre and 200-metre races.

The Russian Echo Moscow radio announced on Monday that Tsimanouskaya's husband had already left Belarus for Kiev.

On Monday afternoon, the EU praised Poland's decision to grant Tsimanouskaya a visa.

"We express our full solidarity to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and commend the (EU) member states that offered her support," EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.