VIENNA: Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya arrived in Austria on Wednesday en route to Poland, where she is expected to take refuge after saying she feared for her life if forced to return home. The 24-year-old sprinter has been at the centre of a diplomatic drama in the middle of the Games since seeking protection from Tokyo 2020 staff on Sunday, saying her team was trying to bundle her onto a plane after she publicly criticised her coaches. In an unexpected twist on Wednesday the athlete made a last-minute switch and decided not to board her flight to Warsaw, which has offered her a humanitarian visa, instead taking a plane to the Austrian capital. The Austrian Airlines flight arrived at Vienna airport shortly after 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Wednesday. A VIP van followed by two police vehicles were waiting to escort Tsimanouskaya from the plane. “According to our information, she is scheduled to head to Warsaw this evening,” an Austrian foreign ministry spokesman said, although the ministry added that should she “want to make an asylum application in Austria, she can of course count on our support”. Tsimanouskaya had entered the airport in Tokyo surrounded by a phalanx of security, wearing a yellow facemask and with the pink ends of her hair visible in a bun. She declined to speak to media gathered at her gate, but waved as she rounded the corner towards her plane. Before travelling she had been sheltering in the Polish embassy in Tokyo for the past two nights after calling for international help, and activists have said she will go to Warsaw. Belarus has been wracked by political upheaval and a crackdown on dissent after disputed elections that returned strongman Alexander Lukashenko to power last year. Tsimanouskaya was one of more than 2,000 Belarusian sports figures who signed an open letter calling for new elections and for political prisoners to be freed. But her trouble in Tokyo came after she posted on her Instagram, criticising her coaches for entering her into a race without informing her first. Her husband has fled to Ukraine and on Wednesday the Polish government said he had also been given a humanitarian visa. The pair are expected to meet up in Poland, a staunch critic of Lukashenko’s regime and home to a growing number of dissidents. The International Olympic Committee has said it will investigate Belarus’s Olympic team, but activists have called for the country’s Olympic committee to be suspended and its athletes to compete as neutrals.