A Belarusian Olympic athlete who said he faced punishment if he returned to his country on Wednesday (4/8) had left Japan on a flight to Austria.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is due to land in Vienna on Wednesday afternoon. He is expected to head to Poland, where the government has offered him a humanitarian visa.
Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki posted Tuesday on Facebook that he had spoken to Tsimanouskaya and that the runner could stay in Poland without a hitch.
Polish authorities Monday granted Tsimanouskaya a humanitarian visa to seek political asylum after she accused her team officials of forcing her to fly back to Belarus against her will.
Tsimanouskaya told officials in Tokyo that she feared she would not survive in Belarus from President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule.
“They explained that once I came back, I would definitely face some punishment,” he told the Associated Press Tuesday in a videocall interview. “There are also vague hints that many more punishments await me.”
His departure from Tokyo comes days after he sparked criticism in state media in Belarus for criticizing the way officials handled Belarusian Olympic athletes.
On her Instagram account, Tsimanouskaya stated that she was included in the 4×400 meters relay team even though she had never competed in that event.
The National Olympic Committee of Belarus has been chaired by Lukashenko and his son, Viktor, for more than 25 years. [uh/ab]