Court denied Belarus sprinter’s legal bid to run in Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya waged — and lost — a legal fight to run in the 200 meters at the Olympics while she was also seeking a humanitarian visa to leave the Tokyo Games safely.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport outlined Tuesday the legal steps Tsimanouskaya took in the hours after she sought protection in Japan during an airport standoff on Sunday to avoid returning to Belarus, where she believes her life would be in danger.

CAS said in a statement that it denied Tsimanouskaya’s request for an interim ruling that would have allowed her to run at the Olympic Stadium on Monday. The heats were held in the morning and the semifinals were in the evening.

Tsimanouskaya “was not able to prove her case to get an interim relief,” the court said in a statement, without giving details.

The IOC said Tuesday the Belarusian Olympic team’s role in sparking the diplomatic incident is being formally investigated. The scope of the IOC’s investigation is likely to include Belarusian officials hustling Tsimanouskaya to the airport and withdrawing her from the 200.

The CAS decision to deny the 24-year-old runner of an urgent interim ruling to clear her to compete was made by the head of the court at the Tokyo Games. The judge is American lawyer Michael Lenard, the vice president of the CAS management board who represented the United States in handball at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Tsimanouskaya sought and got protection from Japanese authorities at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Sunday to avoid returning to Belarus. She then went to the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday and was given a visa to enter that country. Poland is a member of the European Union, while Belarus is not.

Tsimanouskaya has been vilified in the autocratic country for using social media to criticize Belarusian track officials in Tokyo. She said they entered her in the 4×400 relay team, a distance she does not run, without her consent.

Tsimanouskaya competed in the 100 heats on Friday. She placed fourth in her heat and did not advance.

The sprinter’s Olympic future could now be with Poland. The IOC said it had contacted team officials from Poland about Tsimanouskaya resuming her career, and from Belarus about its investigation.

“We have asked for a report from the (Belarus national Olympic committee),” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “We want it today. We need to hear everyone involved. Obviously that can take time.”

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