The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sanctioned two Belarusian coaches on Friday August 6 by withdrawing their accreditation for the Tokyo Olympics (Olympics), due to their involvement in the scandal surrounding the athlete Kristina Timanovskaïa. This 100 and 200 m specialist escaped forced repatriation to Belarus after criticizing her country’s athletics federation, which had registered her for the 4 × 400 m relay without notifying her. The athlete was forced to take refuge two nights at the Polish embassy in the Japanese capital, before reaching, via Vienna, Poland, a country which granted him a humanitarian visa.
“A disciplinary commission has been set up by the IOC in the context of the Kristina Timanovskaïa affair to clarify the circumstances of what happened and the role played by coaches Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich”, explained the IOC on his Twitter account. “The two coaches were asked to leave the Olympic Village with immediate effect, which they did. They were offered the opportunity to be heard ”, concludes the text. “The procedure continues, it is not over. The disciplinary commission will take the appropriate sanctions and decisions ”, recalled for his part the President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, during his press conference devoted to the results of the Olympics, Friday afternoon in Tokyo.
The Belarusian Olympic Committee reacted to this decision by warning, without further details, that it would continue to “Protect the interests of all athletes and coaches against all forms of discrimination”.
“Protect athletes as best as possible”
“We are not in a position to change the political system in a country, it is not our mission. Our responsibility is to protect athletes as best as possible, to sanction and keep away from the Games those who do not respect our values ”, explained the President of the IOC to a journalist who asked him about the particular case of Belarus, already sanctioned in the past. “We are very happy to know that this sportswoman is now safe in Poland and we have offered our help, through the Polish Olympic Committee, to help her in her sporting ambitions”, concluded the boss of the Olympic movement.
On Thursday in Warsaw, the athlete admitted at a press conference that she was “Surprise that the situation has become such a political scandal”, taking into account that it was at the beginning of a sporting question. “I don’t think of political asylum, she assured. I just want to continue my sports career ”, said Kristina Timanovskaya, adding that her husband, Arseni Zdanevich, who fled to Ukraine and also obtained a humanitarian visa in Poland, was “Already on the way” to join her. “I will do everything to get back in shape and continue my career”, she continued, hoping to participate in the next two editions of the Olympics.
Timanovskaya was one of some 2,000 Belarusian sports figures who signed an open letter calling for new elections and the release of political prisoners. Belarus – a former Soviet republic ruled with an iron fist by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, and whose son is head of the Belarusian Olympic Committee, a position the IOC has decided not to recognize – has been shaken by a repression of the opposition, which contested the result of the presidential election.