Belarus Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has said she was "safe" and under police protection in Japan after claiming she had been forced to leave the Tokyo Olympics by her country.
"I am safe and they are in the process of deciding where I am going to spend the night," she said in a statement on Telegram published by the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSFF), an organisation that supports opposition athletes.
Earlier today, the Belarusian sprinter said she was taken to the airport against her wishes to board a flight back home after she publicly complained about national coaches at the Olympics.
Ms Tsimanouskaya, who was due to compete in the women's 200 metres tomorrow, said she did not plan to return to her country.
She said that she had sought the protection of Japanese police at Tokyo's Haneda Airport so she would not have to board the flight.
"I will not return to Belarus," she told Reuters in a message over Telegram.
Ms Tsimanouskaya, 24, said coaching staff had come to her room this morning and told her to pack.
She was taken to the airport before she could run in the 200 metres and 4x400 metres relay on Thursday.
Ms Tsimanouskaya said she had been removed from the team due "to the fact that I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches".
She had previously complained she was entered in the 4x400m relay after some members of the team were found to be ineligible to compete at the Olympics because they had not undergone a sufficient amount of doping tests.
"Some of our girls did not fly here to compete in the 4x400 metre relay because they didn't have enough doping tests," Ms Tsimanouskaya said from the airport.
"And the coach added me to the relay without my knowledge. I spoke about this publicly. The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me."
Ms Tsimanouskaya added she was standing next to Japanese police at the airport and she had contacted a member of the Belarusian diaspora in Japan to collect her at the airport.
Haneda police said there was no one immediately available to comment.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsymanouskaya was forced by the regime to leave the @Olympics in Tokyo & fly to Belarus after criticizing Belarus' management of the national team during the games. She's afraid to come back to Minsk. No athlete should be forced this way. pic.twitter.com/1Ros5scrJG— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) August 1, 2021
"It turns out our great bosses as always decided everything for us," Ms Timanovskaya said on her Instagram stories that are no longer available.
She later said in a separate Instagram post that she wouldn't have "reacted so harshly if I had been told in advance, explained the whole situation and asked if I was able to run 400 metres".
"But they decided to do everything behind my back."
"I am under pressure and they are trying to take me out of the country without my consent. I ask the International Olympic Committee to interfere," Ms Timanovskaya added.
The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement that Ms Timanovskaya left the competition following medical advice because of her "emotional and psychological state".
The BSSF quoted Ms Timanovskaya as saying this was "not true" and she was not examined by doctors.
In a statement, the IOC said: "The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have spoken to Krystsina Tsymanouskaya directly tonight. She is with the authorities at Haneda airport and is currently accompanied by a staff member of Tokyo 2020. She has told us that she feels safe.
"The IOC and Tokyo 2020 will continue their conversations with Krystsina Tsymanouskaya and the authorities to determine the next steps in the upcoming days."
BSSF was founded last August by retired Belarusian swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia, as protests erupted after the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Ms Herasimenia, who now lives in exile in Lithuania, sold her 2012 world championship gold medal to raise funds for the foundation.
The foundation provides financial and legal assistance to athletes targeted by the authorities after calling for an end to the violent police crackdown on demonstrators.
The turmoil has led to Belarus being stripped of hosting this year's ice hockey world championship and a ban on Mr Lukashenko attending Olympic events.
Additional reporting AFP