Why Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya Is Auctioning Medal After Seeking Asylum

Belarusian Olympic runner Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is auctioning off her 2019 European Games medal for a cause close to her heart. The bidding has already surpassed $20,000.

By Lindsay Weinberg Aug 09, 2021 8:32 PMTags
Watch: 2020 Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony: Must-See Moments

After receiving asylum in Poland, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya is giving back to her community.

The Olympic sprinter, who alleged she would face punishment if she returned to her native Belarus because she criticized her coaches on social media, has decided to auction off one of her "most precious" belongings. She will put the silver medal she won at the 2019 European Games on the auction block in order to raise money for the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF), according to an email from the organization to Yahoo Sports.

Per the BSSF's website, sports officials and athletes created the foundation in August 2020, with founding members including Olympic medalists. The site says their goal is to "provide support to the athletes who were detained and faced repressions for taking part in peaceful manifestations, excluded from the national teams, scratched from competitions, sacked, or stripped from stipends or salaries for expressing their political views."

On eBay, the medal has already received a bid of more than $20,000 with nine days to go.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Candid Photos

According to Yahoo, Tsimanouskaya told the BSSF that the European Games "were extremely important for me as they were held at the home arena" and members of her family came to "cheer" for her.

"I remember, when I was running the relay and only about 80 meters of the distance were left, I felt I was running out of power," she explained. "At that moment I heard that the stadium was exploding by how loudly people were rooting for me."

Ivan Romano/Getty Images

"The people's support helped me get a second wind and run with all my might to the finish line," Tsimanouskaya continued. "I even remember crying after I had finished, because I had felt such emotions during the race for the first time. That moment I felt myself together with spectators as one. They do say rightly that sport is the thing that unites us."

The foundation said the proceeds from her silver medal will help support the "free athletes of Belarus who suffered from the actions of [President Alexander] Lukashenko's regime."

Tsimanouskaya made headlines last week when her team allegedly removed her from the Games and tried to force her to return home to Belarus, according to The New York Times. The move came after she complained in a now-deleted Instagram post that her coaches were making her compete in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, despite having no prior experience in the event, multiple outlets reported.

On Aug. 2, Poland's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs tweeted that she would be given a humanitarian Visa and granted asylum in Poland, where she landed on Aug. 4.

AP Photo/Daniel Kozin

However, the Belarusian Olympic Committee told the NYT that her "emotional and psychological state" led to her withdrawal at the Olympics. A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said on Aug. 2 it was waiting for a report from the Belarusian committee.

The Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund came to Tsimanouskaya's defense and filed a complaint that alleged she was removed from the Games due to "pure discrimination" and "political reasons."

The athlete spoke out on CBS This Morning last week after safely landing in Poland. "My grandmother, she called me and she said, 'Please don't come back to Belarus.' And that was the reason I go to Poland," Tsimanouskaya said. "Now I can't come back to Belarus, because for sure now, it's so dangerous for me. I don't know when I can come back to home. It's my country." 

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