Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya used Google Translate to issue plea to Japanese police

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Watch: Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'so happy' to reach safety in Poland

An Olympic sprinter from Belarus has revealed she used Google Translate to issue a plea for help to Japanese police at an airport in Tokyo.

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, 24, has been at the centre of a political storm during the Tokyo 2020 Games, after claiming she was being forced to return to her homeland. 

She arrived in Warsaw on Wednesday after being granted a humanitarian visa by Poland.

In a dramatic stand-off, Tsimanouskaya said she refused her coaches’ orders to return to Belarus. 

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya talks with a police officer at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021.  REUTERS/Issei Kato
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya talks with a police officer at Haneda international airport in Tokyo on Sunday. (Reuters)

On Friday, two coaches alleged to have attempted to force her return home were asked to leave the Olympic village in Tokyo and had their accreditation rescinded.

On Sunday, Tsimanouskaya was pictured at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport surrounded by Japanese police.

She said she had been taken there against her will by Belarus officials, but managed to avoid boarding a flight home by seeking help from Japanese police.

She said she used Google Translate on her phone to tell police she needed help.

Watch: Bribery and corruption at the Olympics

She said: "When I arrived at the airport, I used the Google translator to translate in Japanese that I need help. I came to police and showed the translation."

This file photo taken on July 30, 2021 shows Belarus' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (L) and Spain's Maria Isabel Perez competing in the women's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. - Poland has granted a humanitarian visa to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian Olympic athlete who claimed her team tried to force her to leave Japan, Poland's deputy foreign minister said on August 2, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, left, competing in the women's 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (AFP via Getty Images)
Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya enters the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan, August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya enters the Polish embassy in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday. (Reuters)

Tsimanouskaya qualified for the Games in the women’s 100m and 200m events, but claimed that officials from the Belarus Olympic Committee tried to force her to compete in the 4x400m relay without her permission.

She had complained on social media about the way the Olympic team was managed.

She told the AP news agency that her team officials "made it clear that, upon return home, I would definitely face some form of punishment”.

She added: “There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me."

Belarus athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya looks back as she boards her Vienna-bound flight at Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, outside Tokyo on August 4, 2021, after travelling from the Polish embassy where she had spent the past two nights following claims her team tried to force her to return home after she criticised her coaches during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
Belarus athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya looks back as she boards her Vienna-bound flight at Tokyo's Narita International Airport on Wednesday, on her way to Poland. (AFP via Getty Images)

Belarusian president Aleksander Lukashenko and his son, Viktor, served on the Belarus National Olympic Committee for more than two decades and were banned from Tokyo 2020 after athletes complained about intimidation.

The sprinter’s case has put the world’s spotlight on Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime.

There were nationwide protests in Belarus last year over his disputed re-election.

Tsimanouskaya said: “I don't want to get involved in politics.

"For me, my career is important, only sports is important, and I'm only thinking about my future, about how I can continue my career."

WARSAW, MASOVIA, POLAND - 2021/08/05: Krystsina during a press conference.
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is a Belarusian sprinter who refused to fly back to her country out of fear for her safety after criticizing Belarusian Olympic officials.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, Marcin Przydacz said, that Poland has already given the athlete a humanitarian visa.
The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that coaches decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors advice about her emotional and psychological state.. (Photo by Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya during a press conference in Poland on Thursday. (Getty Images)

She said she hopes to return to Belarus when it is safe and has not yet considering seeking political asylum.

Her husband has fled Belarus and been given a visa for Poland but her relatives remain in her homeland.

"I just wanted to run at the Olympics, it was my dream," she said. "I still hope that these were not the last Olympics in my life."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Friday that Belarus coaches Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich have left the Olympic Village. An investigation is under way.

Watch: The countries that have been banned from the Olympics

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