Two Belarus Coaches Expelled From Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO – Two coaches involved in the attempt to force an Olympic athlete to return to Belarus against her will have been stripped of their credentials and expelled from the Olympic Village, Games organizers said on Friday.
The case of 200-meter specialist Kristina Timanovskaya, 24, briefly made the Tokyo Games the center of a major diplomatic conflict when Timanovskaya sought refuge with police at Narita International Airport. Timanovskaya, who is now in Poland, said she was “kidnapped” after she wrote an Instagram post criticizing the Belarusian athletics federation’s preparations for the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee had come under pressure because of its slow investigation into the matter until, on Friday, the organization announced in a message on Twitter that it had asked the coaches, Artur Shimak and Yuri Moisevich. , to leave the Olympics. “They will be offered the opportunity to be heard,” the message said, noting that the investigation was continuing.
Timanovskaya complained in her video that her coaches signed her up for an event she had not trained for, the 4×400-meter relay, because they had not performed enough doping tests on others. athletes.
In an interview with the New York Times this week, Timanovskaya named Moisevich, the head coach of the Belarusian national team, and Shimak, deputy director of the Belarusian Republican Athletics Training Center, as central players in the attempt. to withdraw it from Tokyo.
She said the pair came to her room in the Olympic Village to persuade her to retract complaints she had made in her Instagram post and return home. The order, they said, came from senior officials.
“Put your pride aside,” Moisevich can be heard on a partial recording of the conversation by Timanovskaya. “Your pride will tell you, ‘Don’t do it. You’re kidding.’ And it will start to drag you into the devil’s vortex and twist you.
He adds: “This is how suicide cases end, unfortunately. “
Timanovskaya can be heard crying on the tape. At other times, she seems defiant, refusing to believe that if she nodded and went home, she would be able to continue her athletic career.
The President of the Belarusian Olympic Committee is the eldest son of Alexander G. Lukashenko, the strong man who has held power in the country for 27 years. He has long sought to quell dissent, through measures including a brutal crackdown that began a year ago after a contested presidential election. The targets of the crackdown also included a number of athletes, which led to the IOC’s decision in December to ban the Lukashenko from attending the Tokyo Games.
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