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IOC investigates allegations that Belarus tried to force sprinter home

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By Euronews with AP
In this image made from video provided by NTV, Belarus Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya enters the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.
In this image made from video provided by NTV, Belarus Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya enters the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP/NTV
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Tuesday that it was investigating allegations that the Belarusian Olympic team’s had attempted to force its sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to return home.

“We have asked for a report from the (Belarus national Olympic committee),” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “We want it today. We need to hear everyone involved. Obviously, that can take time."

Tsimanouskaya obtained protection from Japanese authorities at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Sunday to avoid returning to Belarus.

She has now been granted a visa to travel to Poland after saying she feared for her safety if she returned to the autocratic country.

Tsimanouskaya has been vilified in the country for using social media to criticise Belarusian track officials in Tokyo. She said they entered her in the 4x400 relay team, a distance she does not run, without her consent.

Tsimanouskaya competed in the 100 heats on Friday. She placed fourth in her heat and did not advance.

The sprinter’s Olympic future could now be with Poland. The IOC said it had contacted team officials from Poland about Tsimanouskaya resuming her career, and from Belarus about its investigation.

Court denied Tsimanouskaya bid to run

In a separate development, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) said the sprinter waged — and lost — a legal fight to run in the 200 metres at the Olympics while she was also seeking a humanitarian visa to leave the Tokyo Games safely.

CAS outlined on Tuesday the legal steps Tsimanouskaya took in the hours after she sought protection in Japan during an airport standoff on Sunday to avoid returning to Belarus, where she believes her life would be in danger.

The CAS decision to deny the 24-year-old runner of an urgent interim ruling to clear her to compete was made by the head of the court at the Tokyo Games.

Tsimanouskaya “was not able to prove her case to get an interim relief,” the court said in a statement.