A Belarusian sprinter said Sunday that she was under the protection of the Japanese police after her country’s Olympic Committee tried, but failed, to forcibly send her home after she criticized her coaches for registering her for the wrong event.
The sprinter, Kristina Timanovskaya, announced Sunday evening on Instagram that she had sought protection in Japan because she feared for her safety in Belarus, where the country’s strongman leader, Aleksander G. Lukashenko, in power for 27 years, has sought to stifle any dissent.
“I am afraid that in Belarus they might put me in jail,” Ms. Timanovskaya told the independent Belarusian news portal Zerkalo.io. “I am not afraid that I will be fired or kicked out of the national team, I am worried about my safety. And I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus.”
The Belarusian National Olympic Committee, which is run by Mr. Lukashenko’s eldest son, Victor Lukashenko, said on Sunday that it had withdrawn Ms. Timanovskaya from the Games because of her “emotional and psychological state” after consulting with a doctor.
Ms. Timanovskaya denied being examined by any doctors and said she was in good physical and psychological health. She said she had been forcibly removed from her country’s team because “I spoke on my Instagram about the negligence of our coaches.”
In a video taken at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, she asked the International Olympic Committee for support.
In a statement, the I.O.C. said it had been in touch with Ms. Timanovskaya directly. She was at the Haneda Airport, the I.O.C. said, and was accompanied by a member of Tokyo 2020.
“She has told us that she feels safe,” the statement said.
The I.O.C. and Tokyo 2020 will continue conversations with Ms. Timanovskaya and the authorities in coming days, the statement said, to determine next steps.
Kazuya Isozaki, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department, would neither confirm nor deny reports that Ms. Timanovskaya was in Japanese custody or had applied for asylum at Haneda Airport.
“We don’t even know whether the police will take care of this or not,” Mr. Isozaki said.
The Reuters news agency said that one of its photographers saw Ms. Timanovskaya with the police at the airport and that she had said, “I think I am safe.”
Ms. Timanovskaya, 24, was to participate in the Olympic Games for the first time this summer in the 200-meter sprint. But she said she was informed that she would be running the 4×400-meter relay race because some team members had not taken enough antidoping tests to qualify for the event.
“I’m outraged!” she told Zerkalo.io from the airport. “After all, we came to the Olympic Games, and it is against all the rules to declare us for a distance event which we have never competed in our life. This is a complete disrespect for athletes,” she said, describing the situation as “complete chaos.”
She told Zerkalo.io that on Sunday, her coaches and a representative of the national team had come to her room and told her to pack her things. She said she was told that if she did not return, she would lose her position on the national…