Poland gives visa to Belarusian Olympic athlete

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Warsaw

Poland has provided a humanitarian visa to a second Belarusian athlete, Olga Safronova, who said it would have been “dangerous” for her to remain home, the Polish news agency PAP reported Monday.

Safronova came to neighbouring Poland, which has been offering refuge to a growing number of Belarusian dissidents, after she was dropped from the Belarus roster for the Tokyo Olympics when her horse was deemed to be limping.

But “when I came to Poland and got the horse examined, it turned out that it was completely healthy and fit to compete,” she told PAP. She then spoke out against Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko and sports officials, according to her lawyer Tomasz Wilinski, and landed on a list of traitors.

“It was this list where if you found yourself on it, you could not work or continue your sports career,” Safronova said.

“If I hadn’t left Belarus, it would have been dangerous for me… Here I feel safe and my horses are safe,” she added. Poland gave both her and her partner humanitarian visas and she is now living and training outside of Warsaw, with plans to apply for Polish citizenship and represent the country at sporting events. —APP

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