The IOC said on Friday that two Belarus Olympic officials involved in attempting to remove sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya from the Tokyo Olympics had their Games accreditation revoked and were removed from the athletes’ village.
Belarus athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich and team official Artur Shumak have been removed from the athletes’ village, where the teams are staying during the Games.
“In the interest of the wellbeing of the athletes of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus who are still in Tokyo and as a provisional measure, the IOC cancelled and removed last night the accreditations of the two coaches, Mr A. Shumak and Mr Y. Moisevich,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.
“The two coaches were requested to leave the Olympic Village immediately and have done so. They will be offered an opportunity to be heard.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched disciplinary proceedings against the officials two days ago for their role in Tsimanouskaya’s refusal to return to Belarus, a case reminiscent of athlete defections during the Cold War.
Tsimanouskaya sparked outrage on Sunday when she claimed that coaches enraged by her criticism of sporting issues had ordered her to pack and fly to Tokyo before she had even competed.
She refused to board a flight home and sought protection from Japanese police at the airport before spending two nights at the Polish embassy before flying to Warsaw via Vienna.
“An IOC Disciplinary Commission has been set up in the case… to clarify the circumstances around the incident and the roles the coaches… played,” the IOC said.
On Friday, the Belarus Olympic team in Tokyo was unavailable for comment.
The case of the 24-year-old athlete could further isolate Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is already under Western sanctions following a crackdown on opponents that began last year.
Poland has long been critical of Lukashenko’s authoritarian rule and has housed many Belarussian activists.
Tsimanouskaya told Reuters in an exclusive interview on Thursday that she decided to defect while being driven to a Tokyo airport because her grandmother told her it was not safe to return home to Belarus.
“I have always been far from politics, I didn’t sign any letters or go to any protests, I didn’t say anything against the Belarusian government,” she said.
“I’m a sportsperson and I didn’t understand anything in political life. I try not to do anything other than a sport in my life and I try my best to not be distracted by politics.”
The Belarus National Olympic Committee (NOC) at the time had said coaches withdrew Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors’ advice about her emotional and psychological state.