Another Belarusian athlete finds refuge in Poland

Olga Safronova, who was excluded from the Belarusian equestrian team at the Tokyo Olympics, is another sportswoman from that country, following Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who has found shelter in Poland, according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

Belarusian sprinter who defected aims to compete for Poland

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In August, Belarusian runner Tsimanouskaya refused to board a plane in Tokyo bound for Belarus, after being expelled from the Belarusian Olympic squad for critical remarks about the country’s sports officials. She fled to Warsaw where she was granted a Polish humanitarian visa.

Safronova’s plenipotentiary Tomasz Wiliński told PAP that originally Safronova was selected to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympic Games but was dropped after one of her horses was suspected of having been doped. Later, she was critical of both the country’s sports officials and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Anti-doping tests carried out on the horse in Poland, did not confirm the allegations. Meanwhile, Safronova was added to the Belarusian list of “traitors of the motherland,” which includes over 40 Belarusian athletes. Those finding themselves on the list are denied employment and are laid off if they are already employed.

The equestrian then asked Polish authorities to grant her and her partner humanitarian visas. As her partner was in Belarus, he travelled to Lviv in Ukraine via Turkey, where he obtained a visa at the Polish consulate. A decision was made to bring two additional horses for Safronova from Belarus, which was not possible until Saturday.

The plenipotentiary stressed that the matter had not been published so far, so that it could be successfully dealt with. He said that Safronova hopes she would be able to continue her sporting career in Poland. “We want to obtain permission to compete under a neutral flag,” he said.

Mr Wilinski emphasised that Safronova will apply for Polish citizenship, while not renouncing Belarusian citizenship. If she receives it, she would like to represent Poland. He added that the Polish Equestrian Federation is very much interested in cooperating with the Belarusian sportswoman.