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Belarus sprinter forced out of Tokyo Olympics to run for Poland at world championships

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya

Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya looks on during an AFP interview in Warsaw, on August 9, 2021. - The Belarusian sprinter whose Cold War-style defection during the Olympics has gripped the world urged her fellow citizens on August 9 to follow her lead and speak out against the regime. In an interview with AFP on the first anniversary of a disputed presidential election in Belarus, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said that Belarus was “no longer a safe country for its own citizens”. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP) (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarusian sprinter who was removed from the Tokyo Olympics by her team, has been granted Polish nationality by World Athletics and will compete for Poland at the world championships.

Tsimanouskaya, who has lived in Poland since the Tokyo Games, is entered in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at worlds in Budapest that start Aug. 19, a Poland track and field federation official wrote in an email late Monday.

Tsimanouskaya’s World Athletics profile was updated earlier Monday with a note that she became eligible to compete for Poland on Sunday.

“I am very happy although I am experiencing strange emotions because it all happened so fast and suddenly,” Tsimanouskaya wrote on Instagram.

Tsimanouskaya has been competing in Poland all year, including at the nation’s indoor and outdoor championships, where she placed second in the 60m, 100m and 200m, according to

World Athletics generally requires athletes who want to switch allegiance to sit out a three-year waiting period. The rules say that period can be waived in “exceptional” circumstances. World Athletics says it doesn’t comment on how individual cases are decided.

At the Tokyo Olympics, Belarus coaches tried to send Tsimanouskaya home after she criticized them for attempting to enter her in the 4x400m relay even though she had never run in the event before.

She was barred from running her preferred race, the 200m, and said Belarusian officials tried to make her board a flight before Japanese police at the airport intervened to help her. Tsimanouskaya said she feared reprisals if she returned to Belarus and had been warned by her grandmother to stay away.

Her case drew attention to a crackdown on dissent in Belarus under President Alexander Lukashenko.

Two Belarusian coaches were stripped of their Olympic credentials over the incident, removing them from the Tokyo Games. One of them is facing charges from the Athletics Integrity Unit.

World Athletics has barred athletes from Russia and Belarus from international competition since the invasion of Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.