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Two Belarus coaches thrown out of Tokyo Games village for not letting sprinter take part in Olympics

Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya (Pic: Courtesy NBC News)

Two Belarus team coaches have been removed from the Olympics village in Tokyo after they were involved in trying to force sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to cut short her participation in the Tokyo Olympics and return home.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said today that it had 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. It was done as an interim measure during a formal investigation “in the interest of the wellbeing of the athletes”, IOC said.

Shimak and 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 criticized team coaches on social media and is now in Poland after being granted a visa on humanitarian grounds.

The IOC has come under criticism for failing to prevent the athlete being removed from the Games for expressing her views about coaching staff. It took four days in the case of the Belarus coaches before they were ejected from the Games.

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

Belarus is going through a state of political turmoil for a year since Aleksander Lukashenko claimed a sixth presidential term after rigging the election.

Lukashenko also headed the Belarusian Olympic committee since the 1990s until this year when his son, Viktor, was elected to replace him.

The IOC banned both Aleksander and Viktor Lukashenko from attending the Tokyo Olympics after investigating complaints from athletes that 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.

Meanwhile Tsimanouskaya said in Warsaw that the two officials had told her the order to send her home came from "high up" in Belarus, according to a Reuters report.

In what seems to be throwback to defections during the Cold War,  Tsimanouskaya on Sunday had refused to board a flight home and sought protection from Japanese police before seeking asylum in Poland, where she was reunited with her husband on Thursday.

The 24-year-old athlete's case threatens to further isolate Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is under Western sanctions after a crackdown on opponents since last year and whose son heads the national Olympic Committee.

"We are not the ones who made the decision, we are only executing it," Tsimanouskaya said the two officials told her. "You have 40 minutes. You have to pack your things and go to the airport," Reuters cited her as saying.