Belarus also drew international condemnation in recent months for forcing a commercial jet to land in May and arresting an opposition journalist onboard, and for allegedly weaponizing migrants to retaliate against European Union sanctions.
Tsimanouskaya told Belarusian sports news outlet Tribuna that the Belarus national team’s head coach told her that pressure to remove her from the Games came from “a higher level.” She told reporters she feared she would be put in jail if she returned to Belarus.
“I think that at the moment it is not safe for me in Belarus,” she told Tribuna.
The alleged effort to coerce Tsimanouskaya to fly home brought renewed attention to the climate of repression cultivated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, often called “Europe’s last dictator.”
Here is what you need to know about the Belarusian leader.