Second Belarus Athlete Vows Not To Return Home Over Fears For Her Safety
Another Olympic athlete from Belarus has vowed to not return home due to concerns over her safety under the country’s dictatorship.
It comes after sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya managed to evade capture following her criticism of her home nation and its coaches, with Belarus reportedly ‘making it clear’ she’d face punishment from the autocratic government if she landed back in the country.
Fortunately, the Polish embassy offered her a humanitarian visa and she landed in Vienna earlier today, after a last-minute route change. Now, heptathlete Yana Maksimava has also stated she won’t go back to Belarus.
Maksimava, 32, said you ‘can lose not only freedom but also even your life’ under President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime, the MailOnline reports. She’s also married to Belarusian decathlete and Olympic silver medallist Andrei Krauchanka, and lives in Germany.
‘Thinking and thinking for a long time, we decided not to return to Belarus… here there is an opportunity to breathe deeply and be one of those who are fighting for the freedom of their people, friends, we will definitely win,’ she said in a statement.
Maksimava didn’t qualify for this year’s Olympics, but earlier competed at London 2012. ‘P.S. Really hope that my sports career will continue and I will the opportunity to train and perform [and] prepare for the next Olympic Games [in Paris],’ she added.
Concerns grew following Tsimanouskaya’s criticism of her coaches on social media, after refusing to compete in the 400m relay at short notice due to other athletes being ‘ineligible’ to compete. ‘Don’t you understand it is ridiculous to put in the relay race people who do not run 400 metres… what nonsense,’ she reportedly told him on a recording.
On Sunday, August 1, she said she was made to pack her bags and taken to Tokyo’s Haneda airport against her will. She refused to board the flight, seeking the protection of Japanese police before being moved to the Polish embassy. Belarus said she was removed from the team due to her mental health, but not according to Tsimanouskaya.
‘I love my country and I didn’t betray my country, this is about the mistakes that have been made by our officials at the Olympics,’ she told BBC’s Newshour, saying she’ll return when she knows ‘it’s safe… maybe I’ll only be able to return after five or 10 years.’
The International Olympic Committee has since launched a formal investigation into the athlete’s allegations against Belarusian officials, in addition to requesting a report from the Belarus National Olympic Committee.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read