Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has said she showed the police in Tokyo a translated plea for help on her phone as she sought to avoid being forced on a plane back home amid fears for her safety.

The 24-year-old sprinter refused to board a flight headed for Minsk via Istanbul on Sunday after being hustled to the Japanese capital’s Haneda airport against her wishes because she had publicly criticised her Olympic team’s management.

After seeking protection from the Japanese police, she flew to Poland instead of Belarus on Wednesday.

Poland, which has long been critical of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and harboured many activists from Belarus, has granted Tsimanouskaya and her husband humanitarian visas.

Describing her ordeal publicly for the first time, the athlete told Reuters news

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