Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya granted humanitarian visa by Poland

Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says officials tried to force her to board a plane at Tokyo's airport. Credit: AP

A Belarusian athlete who refused to return to her homeland has been granted a humanitarian visa by Poland.

Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who took refuge in the Polish embassy in Japan on Monday, will travel back to Europe in the coming days, a Polish deputy foreign minister said. She is "safe and in good condition", Marcin Przydacz told Reuters.Another deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, confirmed that the visa had been issued.

Tsimanouskaya arrived at the embassy in an unmarked silver van with her official team luggage, and then greeted two officials before entering the premises.

Two women, one carrying the red and white flag considered the symbol of opposition in Belarus, came to the gates to support her.

Tsimanouskaya spent the night in an airport hotel after she went to Japanese police at Haneda airport seeking protection late on Sunday, International Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Adams told a media conference.

A number of agencies were in contact with the sprinter, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he added.

The sprinter, who was due to race in the 200 metre heats at the Olympic Stadium on Monday, had her Games cut short when she said she was taken to the airport to board a Turkish Airlines flight.

She told a Reuters reporter via Telegram that the Belarusian head coach had turned up at her room on Sunday at the athletes village and told her she had to leave.

Police and the media outside the Polish embassy. Credit: AP

"The head coach came over to me and said there had been an order from above to remove me," she wrote in the message.

"At 5 (pm) they came my room and told me to pack and they took me to the airport."

But she refused to board the flight, telling Reuters: "I will not return to Belarus."

Tsimanouskaya's husband, Arseni Zhdanevich, has also left Belarus and travelled to Ukraine, it has been confirmed.

Tsimanouskaya posted about her annoyance at being entered into the 4x400m “behind [her] back” after Belarus had failed to secure the correct doping test for other athletes.

The Belarusian Olympic Committee said in a statement coaches had decided to withdraw Tsimanouskaya from the Games on doctors' advice about her "emotional, psychological state".

Belarus athletics head coach Yuri Moisevich told state television he "could see there was something wrong with her... She either secluded herself or didn't want to talk."

"She has assured us she is safe and secure. We are talking again to her this morning to understand what the next steps will be," Mr Adams said.

"We need to listen to her, find out what she wants and support her in her decision."

The IOC said it would continue conversations with Tsimanouskaya on Monday and the Olympics governing body had asked for a full report from the Belarus' Olympic committee, Adams said.

In response to a number of questions by journalists about what the IOC would do to ensure other athletes in the village were protected, the IOC spokesperson said they were still collecting details about what exactly occurred.

The Japanese government said the athlete had been kept safe while Tokyo 2020 organisers and the IOC checked her intentions.

"Japan is coordinating with relevant parties and continue to take appropriate action," said chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato.

Tsimanouskaya's refusal to board the plane, first reported by Reuters, highlighted discord in Belarus, a former Soviet state that is run with a tight grip by dictator President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Monday, the IOC spokesperson said it had taken a number of actions against Belarus' Olympic Committee in the run up to the Games following nationwide protests in the country.

In March, the IOC refused to recognise the election of Lukashenko's son Viktor as head of the country's Olympic Committee. Both father and son were banned from attending the Games in December.