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World Athletics Opens Investigation Into Belarusian Athlete Case

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she feared for her safety if she returned to Belarus from Tokyo. (file photo)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Athletics have agreed to open formal proceedings against two Belarusian team officials who tried to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya on a flight home from the Tokyo Olympics after she criticized them on social media.

In a joint statement issued on September 30, the IOC and World Athletics said the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) will conduct the proceedings into Belarusian team officials Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich were involved in taking Tsimanouskaya to the Tokyo airport, where she sought help because she said she feared for her safety if she returned to Minsk.

"The AIU will publish the outcome of its investigation when this has been finalized," the statement said.

The AIU is an independent body created by World Athletics to manage all integrity issues, both doping-related and non-doping-related, for the sport.

Tsimanouskaya took refuge in the Polish Embassy in Tokyo on August 2 after refusing to allow Belarusian team officials to force her onto the flight. Two days later she boarded a plane to Europe, reaching Warsaw via a stopover in Vienna.

Shimak and Maisevich continued to have contact with Belarusian team members in Tokyo for four more days after the airport incident, until the IOC withdrew their Olympic credentials.

Belarus has been gripped by a sweeping and sometimes violent crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed presidential election in August 2020.

Authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed a sixth term after the vote, which is widely viewed as having been rigged in his favor.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP