Tokyo Olympics: Czechs offer asylum to Belarus athlete




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The Czech Republic on Monday said it had offered asylum to Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya who complained her team was attempting to send her home from Japan following a row.

“The Japanese authorities have just confirmed to us that the Belarusian athlete Kryscina Tsimanouskaya has received our offer of asylum,” Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said on Twitter.

“If she decides to accept it, we will help her as much as possible. The Olympics are not about politics, the methods of the (President Alexander) Lukashenko regime are absolutely shameful,” he said.

Timanovskaya spent the night in an airport hotel after seeking protection late Sunday with Tokyo 2020 officials to avoid getting on a plane, the International Olympic Committee said.

She alleged overnight that her team wanted to send her home after she criticised Belarus’s athletics federation for entering her into a relay race in Tokyo without giving her notice.

Polish authorities have also offered to help Timanovskaya with a humanitarian visa to pursue her career in Poland.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has also offered to host Timanovskaya.

In December, the IOC banned Lukashenko and his eldest son Viktor from Olympic events over the Belarus Olympic committee’s targeting of athletes for their political views.

Then in March, the IOC refused to recognise Viktor Lukashenko’s leadership of the Belarus NOC when he took over from his father.

Viktor Lukashenko was banned from attending the Olympics, along with a member of the country’s Olympic Committee executive board and several government officials.

A number of Belarusian athletes have supported Lukashenko’s critics and demanded an end to the crackdown.

The turmoil also led to Belarus being stripped of the hosting rights for this year’s ice hockey world championship.

(AFP)