Japan: Belarus runner involved in airport standoff is safe

Tokyo Olympics Belarus Athlete

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government said a Belarus track sprinter was safe Monday after she alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff at Tokyo’s main airport.

An activist group supporting Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and she would seek asylum with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.

Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told reporters that Japan was cooperating with other organizations “to take appropriate measures,” and confirmed that Tsimanouskaya was safe. The Foreign Ministry said Japan was working with the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Olympics organizers.

Tsimanouskaya said in a filmed message distributed on social media that she was pressured by Belarus team officials and asked the IOC for help.

“I was put under pressure and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent,” the 24-year-old runner said.

Tsimanouskaya, who is due to run in the Olympic 200-meter heats Monday, criticized Belarus team officials on her Instagram account. She said she’d been put in the 4x400 relay despite never racing the event.