Kristina Timanovskaya, a Belarusian sprinter competing in Tokyo, released a video Sunday calling for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to help her avoid being returned to her native country.
“I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent. I ask the IOC to intervene,” she says in the short video released on social media.
It appeared online after Timanovskaya was told she will no longer be able to compete for Belarus and must return to Minsk immediately, according to Anatol Kotau of the Belarus Sports Solidarity Foundation.
The group represents Belarusian athletes repressed by Belarusian authorities.
Kotau, who is in direct contact with Timanovskaya, said that at around 3 p.m. Tokyo time on Sunday, representatives of the Belarus national team came to the Olympic village and asked her to “pack her belongings as a decision had been made for her to return to Minsk.”
Speaking to CNN by phone, Kotau said that Timanovskaya is currently at Haneda International Airport police station.
According to Kotau, Timanovskaya was scheduled to be on TK0199 to Istanbul, departing at 10:50 p.m. local time.
Kotau added, as soon as Timanovskaya arrived at the airport, she approached a Japanese police officer and said she would like to apply for political asylum.
In an Instagram post on July 30, she said that she had been included on a list to compete in the 4x400m relay without her consent. “I would never in my life begin to react so harshly if they would come up to me in advance, explain the situation and find out if I can run 400m and I am ready? But they decided to do everything behind my back despite the fact that I tried to find out this information but was only ignored.”
The International Olympic Committee told CNN in a statement: “The IOC has seen the reports in the media, is looking into the situation and has asked the NOC (National Olympic Committee of Belarus) for clarification.”
CNN has reached out to the Belarus Olympic Committee for comment. CNN has also tried to reach Timanovskaya herself. CNN has received no comment from either party.
Sunday saw 26 gold medals awarded at the Tokyo Olympics