The scandal with the Belarusian athlete Kristina Timanovskaya will lead to another round of sanctions that will affect the country’s sports sphere. This opinion was expressed by the Belarusian political scientist Dmitry Bolkunets in an interview with Lenta.ru.
Bolkunets believes that the Belarusian sport can face serious consequences, up to the exclusion of the country from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
He also recalled that the IOC did not recognize last year’s election results for the head of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Belarus, which was won by the eldest son of President Alexander Lukashenko, Viktor. Bolkunets admits that the sanctions may also affect other sports federations of Belarus, primarily the Athletics Federation. Also, the country may be barred from participating in major international sports tournaments.
The political scientist said that after the scandal with the Timanovskaya authorities, they may purge other sports teams, removing athletes with opposition views from them. According to the expert, this may lead to the fact that other famous Belarusian athletes will follow Timanovskaya’s example and try to leave the country.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Poland Martin Przydach wrote in his Twitterthat the country is ready to grant Timanovskaya political asylum. The athlete has already received a Polish humanitarian visa and will leave for Warsaw in the coming days. The country’s authorities declare that, if she wishes, she will be able to continue her sports career in Poland. Dmitry Navosha, co-founder of Sports.ru, said that the athlete’s husband and child had already left Belarus and were in Kiev.
Initially, Timanovskaya said that she would apply for political asylum in Austria. Later, Poland and the Czech Republic announced their readiness to provide the athlete with asylum.
In an interview with Lenta.ru, Belarusian political scientist Dmitry Bolkunets expressed confidence that after returning to the country, Timanovskaya would be arrested. The expert believes that she could be charged with articles for embezzlement or misappropriation of funds during a trip to the Olympics, as well as demand reimbursement of funds spent on her preparation for the Games.
“But she would certainly have been arrested, this is Lukashenka’s personal order and personal revenge on his part,” says Bolkunets. The expert stressed that Timanovskaya’s fears are absolutely justified, since, according to the audio recordings from Tokyo that got into the network, she was threatened by Belarusian sports functionaries. He believes that the next “months, if not years”, the athlete would have spent in prison, as Lukashenka “would have brought the matter to the end and dealt with her.”
On August 1, the NOC removed the athlete from the competition application. Thus, Timanovskaya was excluded from the national team on the eve of the race. After that, the Sports Solidarity Fund accused the Belarusian national team of forcibly deporting the athlete from Tokyo.
Timanovskaya criticized the sports leadership after she was promptly included in the team for the 4×400 meter relay. Before that, a girl who only runs short distances had never competed in this kind of competition. In the official statement of the NOC, the decision to exclude the athlete from the national team is associated with the emotional and psychological state of Timanovskaya.