Belarusian Olympic sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya, who defected to Poland, told reporters Thursday that she hopes she and her husband will be able to stay.
“Once my husband arrives here today, we should make this decision together. I cannot answer anything without him, but I definitely hope we can stay here, and I can continue my sports career and my husband can find some work,” she said during a press conference in Warsaw.
Timanovskaya was set to compete in the women’s 200m at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday. Instead, she says representatives of the Belarus national team tried to forcibly send her home for criticizing sporting authorities on her social media.
After receiving several offers of asylum from European countries, Timanovskaya said she had chosen Poland because her parents thought it was the easiest place for them to try and visit.
“We chose Poland because I spoke to my parents who said that perhaps Poland will be the best choice for me because they probably would be able to come to visit me sometimes,” she said Thursday.
When asked about her last-minute decision not to return to Belarus, Timanovskaya said she was “not thinking about political asylum” and that the decision was motivated by her wish to remain in sport.
“I was not thinking about political asylum. All I want is to remain in sports and continue my sports career here,” she told reporters.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Timanovskaya accused representative of the Belarus national team of taking away her dream by denying her the chance to compete in the women’s 200 meters at the Olympics.
Timanovskaya said the Belarusian media have already started to slander her in recent days over the incident.
“My parents have told me that they are already talking about me on TV and saying very bad things. That I did not take the chance to run the Olympics … that I am not a good enough sportswoman and all that. I have been sent photos from Telegram channels where people posted links to my Instagram with requests to write bad things to me,” she explained.
“Yes, I have received many awful messages. But at that moment, I have been receiving a lot of messages of support from people. I was reading more positive comments than negative,” she added.