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A plane carrying Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya took off for Warsaw on Wednesday, a Reuters eyewitness in Vienna said, following her arrival from Tokyo three days after refusing her team’s order to go home early from the Olympics.
The apparent Cold War-style defection of an athlete has been one of the major stories of the Games and could further isolate Belarus, which is under Western sanctions after President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on opponents since last year.
After spending two nights in Poland’s embassy, the 24-year-old sprinter walked onto a plane at Tokyo’s Narita airport wearing wearing jeans, a blue blouse and sunglasses with “I RUN CLEAN” written on them.
“She is safe and is doing well under the circumstances,” Magnus Brunner, Austria’s deputy environment minister, told reporters after her Austrian Airlines flight touched down in Vienna. “She is naturally worried and excited and nervous about what will happen next for her.”
Tsimanouskaya was later seen boarding a LOT Polish Airlines plane, which subsequently departed for Warsaw, according to a Reuters eyewitness. Poland has granted her a humanitarian visa and another to her husband to join her.
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