After taking refuge in Warsaw after Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Belarusian Kristina Tsimanouskaya receives Polish citizenship

The runner’s hopes of competing in the Paris 2024 Olympics for Poland seem remote due to the rules on new sports nationalities

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FILE PHOTO: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics, poses for a picture with a red and white flag, which is a symbol of the opposition movement in Belarus, during a competition at a stadium in Szczecin, Poland August 15, 2021. Picture taken August 15, 2021. Krzysztof Hadrian/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND./File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics, poses for a picture with a red and white flag, which is a symbol of the opposition movement in Belarus, during a competition at a stadium in Szczecin, Poland August 15, 2021. Picture taken August 15, 2021. Krzysztof Hadrian/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND./File Photo

Belarusian Olympic runner Kristina Tsimanouskaya, who made headlines after the Tokyo 2020 Games when she refused to return to her country, received Polish citizenship.

Tsimanouskaya made her new nationality public on Monday, August 29, on social media.

“It is very difficult to keep silent about this for more than a month, but now it no longer makes sense,” the athlete wrote.

Tsimanouskaya received a new passport by decree of the President of Poland dated June 28, 2022.

The athlete has made no secret of her hope of competing for Poland at the Paris 2024 Olympics in two years time, but that might be complicated.

Under current rules, the International Athletics Federation requires at least three years to pass before an athlete can compete internationally for their new country.

Some experts have begun to speculate that “political circumstances” in the case could be mitigating for Tsimanouskaya.

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya talks with a police officer at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021.  REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya talks with a police officer at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

On September 11, 2021, Tsimanouskaya in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, announced she had applied for Polish citizenship.

The sprinter arrived in Poland on August 4, 2021 from Tokyo, preceded by a strong international media campaign after refusing to return to Minsk.

According to her own statements, after a conflict with those responsible for athletics and the heads of her delegation at the Olympic Games, she was ordered to return to Belarus. She had already spread the dispute on social media, which, in her opinion, caused the government’s discomfort.

Tsimanouskaya criticized the coaching staff’s actions, saying she was forced into the 4×400m relay without warning, when she was a short-distance specialist.

Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021.  REUTERS/Issei Kato/File photo       SEARCH "BEST OF THE TOKYO OLYMPICS" FOR ALL PICTURES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is escorted by police officers at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan August 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File photo SEARCH "BEST OF THE TOKYO OLYMPICS" FOR ALL PICTURES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

The National Olympic Committee said doctors had suggested Tsimanouskaya be sent home because of her emotional and psychological state.

At Tokyo’s Narita Airport, she did not board the plane to Minsk and requested the help of the Japanese police and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Poland granted her a humanitarian visa while the IOC opened an investigation and expelled two Belarusian coaches from the Olympic Village.

The runner lives in Warsaw with her husband, who managed to leave Belarus via Ukraine last year.

On social media she said she participated for the first time in the Polish club championship. She was on the 100m podium and her team placed second overall.

“These were my first official competitions, in which I participated not as a Belarusian, but as a Pole,” she said.

She continued, “I am extremely happy to represent my club and finally go to competitions freely, unfortunately not as a Belarusian, but sometimes you have to sacrifice something to get back on the podium.”