Vienna / Tokyo (dpa) – Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanowskaja is on her way to Vienna. This was confirmed by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
According to media reports, the 24-year-old has left Tokyo on a plane that is scheduled to land in Vienna around 4 p.m. The athlete was actually supposed to fly to Warsaw. Poland had issued her a humanitarian visa.
Shortly before the Belarusian sprinter left Tokyo, the IOC set up a disciplinary committee to investigate the matter. The panel must establish the facts of the affair surrounding the alleged attempted kidnapping of the athlete from Japan by Belarusian authorities.
Meanwhile, more athletes from Belarus want to leave their homeland. Jana Maximowa wrote on Instagram that she and her husband, the athlete Andrei Kravchenko, wanted to live in Germany in the future. In Belarus you could lose your freedom and your life. “Here’s the chance to take a deep breath and be part of those fighting for the freedom of their people, their friends, relatives and loved ones,” she captioned a photo with her child.
Return must be enforced
According to the athlete, Belarusian authorities wanted to force her to return to Minsk early on Sunday because she criticized sports officials. Timanovskaya turned to Japanese police at Haneda Airport and refused the return flight.
The IOC Disciplinary Committee should now focus on the Belarus (Belarus) athletics head coach and the deputy director of the national training center. The two officials are said to have informed Timanovskaya that she had to return to her homeland early because of her criticism of the top team’s decisions on social media.
Timanovskaya had said that the “picture” was not about politics. “I only criticized the fact that our head coaches chose the relay team without consulting the athletes,” she said. “I never thought it could reach such proportions and become a political scandal.”
Clear criticism from Poland
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sharply attacked Belarusian leaders around ruler Alexander Lukashenko. He demanded that the “aggression of the Belarusian security services on Japanese soil” would be met with “resolute resistance from the international community”. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) criticized the Belarusian government as politically and morally bankrupt. Sports alliances such as Athleten Germany and Global Athlete campaigned for a ban on the Belarus Olympic Committee.
A decision on possible IOC sanctions during the Tokyo Games seems unlikely. “These things take time. We need to get to the bottom of the matter,” IOC spokesman Adams said on Tuesday.
Belarus’ NOK has been out of favor with the IOC for some time. The ruler Lukashenko, who also led the NOK for a long time, and his son Viktor, who is now the head of the association, were banned from all Olympic activities, including the Tokyo Games. The NOK leadership around the Lukashenkos did not adequately protect athletes from political discrimination within the country’s sports organizations, IOC chief Thomas Bach justified the sanctions last December. All financial donations to the NOK of Belarus have also been suspended for the time being.