Wednesday. 21.02.2024

Sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya arrived in Vienna on Wednesday following her allegations that Belarusian sports officials attempted to kidnap her from the Tokyo Olympics and force her to fly back to Belarus.

The runner flew out of Japan having been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland and is now expected to travel on to Warsaw.

She was met in Vienna by security personnel.

"Her safety is a big issue," said a spokesperson for Austria's foreign ministry.

She was pictured leaving the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Wednesday where she has been staying after seeking help from Japanese police at Haneda airport on Sunday having been taken there by Belarusian officials.

She had been due to run in Monday's 200 metre heats until Belarus withdrew her.

The International Olympic Committee earlier opened a disciplinary commission to probe the case of Timanovskaya.

The commission aims to establish the facts, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

The probe will hear from the two officials alleged to be involved - the Belarusian head athletics coach and the deputy director of the national training centre.

Timanovskaya said they told her in Tokyo she would have to return home early because of critical comments she made on social media.

She told German tabloid Bild her criticism had not been a political matter.

She said her only criticism was of the coaches deciding on the relay team without consulting the athletes, and that she never thought the incident could spiral so far and become a political scandal.

IOC evaluation

The IOC has received the written report it requested from the Belarusian Olympic Committee and will evaluate it, Adams said.

The athlete's case has drawn global attention and outrage at a time when tensions are high between the international community and Belarus.

This follows the ongoing repression of civil society and peaceful protests that were sparked a year ago by disputed elections which long-time ruler Alexander Lukashenko says he won.

Poland was among several countries that offered Timanovskaya a humanitarian visa.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki issued a statement calling for "the aggression of Belarusian security services on Japanese territory" to be met with "resolute opposition" from the international community.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the Belarusian government as politically and morally bankrupt.

A number of sports bodies including Global Athlete have called for the Belarusian Olympic Committee to be banned.

Timanovskaya lands in Vienna as IOC opens case against Belarus