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.
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to have attempted to force her return home were asked to leave the Olympic village in Tokyo and had their accreditation rescinded.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.
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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."
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."
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."
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.
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