Poland granted a visa Monday to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who said she feared for her safety and that her team’s officials tried to force her to fly home, where the autocratic government was accused of diverting a flight to arrest a dissident journalist.
An activist group that is helping athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya told The Associated Press that it bought her a plane ticket to Warsaw for the coming days.
The current standoff apparently began after Tsimanouskaya criticized how officials were managing her team — setting off a massive backlash in state-run media back home, where authorities relentlessly crack down on government critics.
The runner said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4×400 relay even though she has never raced in the event.
The runner was then apparently hustled to the airport but refused to board a flight for Istanbul and instead approached police for help.
In a filmed message distributed on social media, she also asked the International Olympic Committee for assistance.
“I was put under pressure, and they are trying to forcibly take me out of the country without my consent,” the 24-year-old said in the message.