Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya has received a humanitarian visa from Poland. The athlete who was brought to Tokyo Airport yesterday against her will to fly back home, walked into the Embassy of Poland in Japan‘s capital earlier today.
“Poland will do everything it takes to help her pursue her sports career,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister wrote on Twitter. “Poland stands for solidarity,” the politician added. The country offered her a humanitarian visa last night.
Check out the Belarusian arrival at the Polish Embassy here:
The athlete would have bought an airline ticket to travel to Warsaw on August 4th, says the organization Belarusian Foundation for Sports Solidarity, against news agency AP. The organization supports Belarusian athletes who are prosecuted for their political views.
Timanovskaya’s choice to go to the Polish embassy is a logical choice according to correspondent Wouter Zwart. “Poland is a warm heart to the Belarusian opposition. It‘s a clear opponent of the regime. Several members of the Belarusian opposition are in exile there and have found a safe haven after the dramatically expired elections and the bloody downed uprisings that followed.”
The advisor to Belarusian opposition leader Tichanovskaya writes on Twitter that the regime is trying to put pressure on the athlete. The security services would have visited her grandmother and her parents in her native village of Klimavitchi.
Timanovskaya’s partner and her child would have fled to Ukraine from Belarus. “Hoping they will be reunited quickly. What country that will happen in is still unclear,” says Zwart.
The Belarusian Embassy in Tokyo asked the Japanese authorities to clarify the situation around Timanovskaya. The Belarusian President Lukashenko has not responded yet.
“But that will most likely be a negative reaction,” says correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp from Moscow. “At first, Timanovskaya‘s criticism was not a political story, but mainly focused on the Belarusian Olympic organization. But by refusing to return to Minsk and knocking at the Polish embassy, it draws politics.”
“Warrant from above”
The 24-year-old athlete reported yesterday that she had unexpectedly been told to pack her gear. She was said to be taken to the airport along with a member of the Belarusian delegation and a psychologist. The head coach told her to leave on “order from above”.
The sprint star says she was kicked off the team after she criticized her coaches on Instagram. It was supposed to fly from Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and then switch to a flight to Belarus. At Tokyo Airport, she called for the help of the Japanese police. The IOC is also in conversation with her and said earlier she’s safe.