Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya who defected during the Tokyo Olympics this month says she plans to apply for Polish sporting citizenship so that she can run for Poland.
The 24-year-old athlete was taken in by Warsaw when her coaches told her to return to Belarus from Japan following a dispute, an order she refused to obey fearing for her safety.
This is an interview she had with Russian broadcaster RBC which aired late on Wednesday (August 18):
Host: "What's next? You said you will take some rest, after that when you return to competing will you continue under the Belarusian flag, as a Belarusian sportswoman?"
Tsimanouskaya: “No, we are now going to try and change my sporting citizenship so that I can compete for the Polish national team. But this is a lengthy process and one of the conditions of such citizenship change is a sports quarantine which normally takes three years. But we will ask for this quarantine to be shortened for me because it is an unusual situation. I have not been planning to change citizenship but the situation has forced me to do so, it is a necessary measure. I have decided to stay in Poland and compete for the Polish national team."
Host: "So within the next three years, at least, you have no plans to return to Belarus?"
Tsimanouskaya: "How do I explain this? I would love to return but I will only do it when I am sure it will be safe for me."
Belarus has been gripped by a sweeping crackdown on anti-government dissent following mass protests that erupted last year over a disputed election.