By Karolos Grohmann and Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – The Olympics governing body was probing Belarus’s treatment of an athlete seeking refuge in Poland while Norway’s Karsten Warholm smashed a world record on the track and Simone Biles was set for a highly anticipated return to the gymnastics stage on Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee said it expected a report https://www.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-ioc/update-1-olympics-ioc-awaiting-report-from-belarusian-olympic-committee-idUSL8N2PA0F4 later in the day from the Belarusian team on the case of sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/belarus-athlete-in-hands-authorities-ioc-2021-08-02 in the Polish embassy on Monday after refusing her team’s orders to fly home.
She was expected to fly on Wednesday to Poland, which has offered her a humanitarian visa.
The IOC spoke twice on Monday to Tsimanouskaya, who was in a safe, secure place, said spokesman Mark Adams.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused https://www.reuters.com/world/blinken-says-belarus-treatment-athlete-intolerable-transnational-repression-2021-08-03 Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s “regime” of intolerable “transnational repression” in the matter.
On the track in Tokyo, Warholm shattered the world record in the men’s 400 metres hurdles final with a blistering 45.94-second run, besting American Rai Benjamin, who also broke Warholm’s old record – from last month – of 46.70 seconds.
“Both of them smashed the old world record,” said BBC commentator and former world 1,500m champion Steve Cram, describing Warholm as “Superman in this event.”
Outdoor athletes were once again battling the Tokyo summer weather as well as their competitors, with highs well above 30 degrees Celsius (85 Fahrenheit) and rain-forest humidity.
The American Biles, considered by many the greatest gymnast ever, was to bring a blockbuster finale to gymnastics at the Games by participating in the balance beam final, starting at 5:50 p.m. (0850 GMT), her first competition in a week.
She will look to end a tumultuous Olympics on a golden high after abruptly dropping out of the team event after one vault, citing mental health issues and increasing the global spotlight on the pressures elite athletes face.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who had cited depression in taking a break from tennis in recent months, lost to the world No. 42 in the third round last week, one of many shocking results in this year’s Games.
Also making history, the first openly transgender Olympian, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, said she does not see herself as a role model or trailblazer and just wanted to be seen as any other athlete on sport’s biggest stage.
Hubbard made un unexpected early exit on Monday, eliminated just 10 minutes into her +87 kg contest, ending an appearance that provoked controversy.
Transgender rights advocates applauded her being allowed to compete, while some former athletes and activists believe her background gives her an unfair physiological advantage and undermines efforts for women’s equality in sport.
Away from the competition, some Australian athletes caused damage to their rooms in the athletes’ village rooms before departing while the team’s mascots – an emu and a kangaroo – went missing but have since returned, said team chief Ian Chesterman.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Mitch Phillips; Additional reporting by Martin Petty; Writing by William Mallard)