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Tokyo Olympics: Belarusian sprinter sells medal to benefit athletes disowned by his country

During the Tokyo Olympics, Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya made a name for herself by asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help in escaping forced repatriation to her country. Now a refugee in Poland after a stopover in Austria, this Monday, August 9, she put one of her medals on sale.

The athlete won the silver title at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus. The award is auctioned online, on Ebay, for a starting price of $ 5,000 (approximately 4,250 euros). This initiative is significant as the proceeds from this sale must be donated to the Belarusian Foundation for Solidarity in Sport (BSSF), which helps athletes disowned by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus.

It seems that Krystsina Tsimanouskaya considers herself in this category. During the Tokyo Olympics, he said he was under threat of forced repatriation after criticizing his national federation on social media. Fearing she would be imprisoned upon her return to Belarus, she requested the protection of the IOC, refusing to board the plane that would take her home.

Later, several countries offered him asylum and the athlete chose to join Poland, which offered him a humanitarian visa. Since then, the IOC has sanctioned two Belarusian coaches for their involvement in this matter. Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich had their accreditations for the Tokyo Olympics withdrawn on Friday, August 6. They were asked to leave the Olympic Village immediately.

The president of the commission, Thomas Bach clarified that “the procedure continues”, stating that “the disciplinary commission will take the appropriate sanctions and decisions.” “We are not in a position to change the political system of a country, it is not our mission,” he added. Our responsibility is to protect athletes as best we can, sanction and remove from the Games those who do not respect our values ​​”.

For her part, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she was “surprised that the situation has turned into a political scandal.” Claiming to want to focus on his sports career, however, he wanted to support the actions of the BSSF by selling this medal which, as underlined franceinfo, it has great sentimental value for her. In a press release, the sprinter explains having won it in a competition that is especially important to her, as it “took place at home” in Minsk, Belarus.

She is not the first Belarusian athlete to present one of her awards for the cause: Aliaksandra Herasimenia, a former swimmer and president of the BSSF, herself sold her gold medal won at the 2012 world championships. She was forced to take refuge in Lithuania after to call for the cancellation of international competitions in Belarus. Accused of “undermining national security”, she faces five years in prison in her country.

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