Tokyo (AP) – In the Olympic scandal involving Kristina Timanowskaja, the IOC has set up a disciplinary committee to investigate the matter shortly before the Belarusian sprinter left Tokyo.
This should prove the facts in the case of the athlete’s alleged kidnapping from Japan by Belarusian authorities, an International Olympic Committee spokesman said on Wednesday. Timanowskaya had departed Tokyo in the late morning (local time), according to the media initially with a flight to Vienna rather than as expected to Warsaw.
The 24-year-old had previously received a humanitarian visa from Poland. The Polish government had assured her that she could continue her sports career there. “As far as I know she is on her way to Poland,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
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.