Two Belarus team coaches removed from Tokyo Olympics over sprinter case

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Two Belarus Team Coaches Removed From Tokyo Olympics Over Sprinter Case Two Belarus Team Coaches Removed From Tokyo Olympics Over Sprinter Case
Krystsina Tsimanouskaya
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By AP Reporters

Two Belarus team coaches have been removed from the Olympics, four days after they were involved in trying to send sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya back to their home country.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it has cancelled and removed the credentials of Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich.

“The two coaches were requested to leave the Olympic Village immediately and have done so,” the IOC said.

The move was carried out as an interim measure during a formal investigation “in the interest of the wellbeing of the athletes”, the Olympic body said.

Mr Shimak and Mr Maisevich continued to have contact with Belarusian athletes since Sunday after the IOC linked them to taking Tsimanouskaya in a car to the airport to put her on a plane to Belarus.

Tsimanouskaya had criticised team coaches on social media and is now in Poland with a humanitarian visa.

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Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (AP)

The IOC said Mr Shimak and Mr Maisevich “will be offered an opportunity to be heard” by its disciplinary commission investigating the case.

It was unclear if the men have stayed in Japan or will leave for Belarus, an authoritarian former Soviet republic that relentlessly pursues its critics.

Belarus has been in turmoil for a year since Aleksander Lukashenko claimed a sixth presidential term after a state election widely viewed as rigged in his favour.

Mr Lukashenko also led the Belarusian Olympic committee since the 1990s until this year. His son, Viktor, was elected to replace him.

The IOC banned both Lukashenkos from attending the Tokyo Olympics after investigating complaints from athletes they faced reprisals and intimidation in a security crackdown after the election.

Alexander Lukashenko was previously unable to attend the 2012 London Olympics because of a European Union visa ban imposed during a previous crackdown that followed a disputed election.

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