Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya arrived today on a direct flight from Tokyo to Vienna International Airport, where, escorted by the police as a security measure, she hopes to continue her journey to Warsaw.
After landing at 15:08 local time (13:08 GMT) of Austrian Airlines (AUA) flight OS 052, the 24-year-old sprinter was transferred in a van, accompanied by a police patrol, to a traffic zone isolated from the aerodrome, as Efe witnessed on the ground.
In a VIP room she was received by Secretary of State Magnus Brunner.
“For us, the highest priority is that Kristina Timanovskaya is now safe. That is the fundamental thing,” said the Alpine republic’s foreign minister, the conservative Alexander Schallenberg, in a statement sent to the local agency APA.
Whether the athlete will finally find protection in Poland, Austria or elsewhere “remains to be seen and also depends on her” (…) In any case, Austria is ready to help her, he added.
Previously, an airport spokesman had confirmed to Efe that the athlete planned to stay a few hours in Vienna, as she would take another flight to Poland, a country that has granted her a humanitarian visa.
“There is nothing for the press, there will be no contact with it, and it continues to Warsaw,” the source said.
On the airport’s website there are for the rest of today two regular flights to Warsaw, one scheduled to take off at 18:05 (16:05 GMT) and another one hour later (17:05 GMT), but there is no rules out that Tsimanouskaya can travel in a special plane.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz assured on his Twitter account that the broker “is under the care of the Polish diplomatic service.”
“As has been made clear on numerous occasions, due to security reasons we will not release details of the flight,” he added.
Japanese media had reported this morning that Tsimanouskaya was preparing to fly to Warsaw from Tokyo, but the flight itinerary was changed by Polish diplomats at the last minute, for security reasons.
Representatives of the Belarusian exile in Poland confirmed that they await the arrival of the athlete this Wednesday, as well as that of her husband, Arseny Zdanevich, from Ukraine.
The information was confirmed through social networks by Pavel Latushka, representative of the unofficial government of Belarus in exile who held various positions in the Executive of Aleksandr Lukashenko, including that of Ambassador of Belarus in Spain.
The Polish authorities, like the Belarusian exiles, seek the utmost caution, while recalling the diversion and forced landing in Minsk, last June, of a Ryanair plane to arrest opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.
Tsimanouskaya took refuge in the Polish embassy in Japan after refusing to be forcibly repatriated by her government while participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
Poland was the first country to offer to host the athlete, while the International Olympic Committee has opened an investigation to clarify the case.
The runner, who has supported protests against the Lukashenko regime and is in contact with the democratic dissidents in her country, feared reprisals upon returning to Belarus, as she explained in videos and messages posted on social media.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has charged Belarus with a “criminal attempt to kidnap” the sprinter, who was scheduled to participate in the 200-meter race last Monday.