Olympics-Reaction to athlete's refusal to return to Belarus

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Accreditation card of Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is seen at Haneda international airport in Tokyo
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, in Japan for the Olympic Games, took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday, a day after refusing to board a flight home with her team.

Tsimanouskaya, 24, said she was taken against her will to Tokyo's Haneda airport after complaining on social media about her national coaches. At the airport, she sought protection from Japanese police. She plans to leave for Poland in the coming days, a Polish deputy foreign minister said.

Here are quotes from officials and others involved in reaction to the developments:

U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BELARUS, JULIE FISHER:

"Thanks to the quick action of Japanese and Polish authorities, Tsimanouskaya is able to evade the attempts of the Lukashenko regime to discredit and humiliate this #Tokyo2020 athlete for expressing her views," Fisher wrote on Twitter.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON, MARIA ADEBAHR:

"We call on the authorities in Belarus to respect basic democratic rights, including freedom of the media, freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

"This applies to every citizen of Belarus and, of course, to sportsmen and sportswomen."

FRENCH EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MINISTER CLEMENT BEAUNE:

"Political asylum - it would be an honour for Europe to do so," Beaune told RFI radio.

INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE SPOKESPERSON MARK ADAMS:

"Our duty to her is to make sure she is safe and secure and she's told us that she is. We were in touch with her last night and we are in touch with her again today and continue to be in touch with her. But in the end if there are wider issues that isn't for the IOC to deal with.

"We are supporting her and we want to make sure that she gets what she wants and we support her in that.

JAPAN CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATSUNOBU KATO:

"The Belarusian athlete has been kept safe with cooperation with relevant parties.

"The Japanese government understands that relevant parties such as Tokyo 2020 organisers, IOC are checking her intentions.

"Japan is coordinating with relevant parties and continue to take appropriate action."

POLISH DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS MARCIN PRZYDACZ:

"Poland is ready to help (Krystsina) Tsimanouskaya...she was offered a humanitarian visa and is free to pursue her sporting career in Poland if she so chooses."

CZECH REPUBLIC FOREIGN MINISTER JAKUB KULHANEK:

"I consider the situation around the Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya to be scandalous. The Czech Republic is ready to help...we offer her a visa to enter the country so that she can apply for international protection with us. Our embassy in Tokyo is also ready to help."

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH PROGRAMME OFFICER IN TOKYO TEPPEI KASAI:

"Japanese authorities as well as the IOC should take seriously Krystsina Tsimanouskaya's concerns and continue to offer her appropriate protection on humanitarian grounds.

"The Japanese government should continue to do everything it can, including coordination with other governments, to ensure she is not forced back to Belarus, and that her family back home is also protected from government repression."

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Hugh Lawson)

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