Sweden’s Nils van der Poel rips decision to give China the Olympics: ‘Extremely irresponsible’

on Feb18
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Swedish speedskater Nils van der Poel won gold medals in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, setting a world record in the latter event.

Upon returning home to Sweden, Van der Poel took the opportunity to criticize China over their human rights violations and said the country didn’t deserve to host the Winter Games.

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Nils van der Poel of Sweden, poses during a venue ceremony after winning the gold medal and breaking his own world record in the men's speedskating 10,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Beijing.

Nils van der Poel of Sweden, poses during a venue ceremony after winning the gold medal and breaking his own world record in the men’s speedskating 10,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, in Beijing.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

“The Olympic Village was very nice, the Chinese people I met were absolutely amazing,” he told Swedish media, via The Guardian. “The Olympics is a lot, it’s a fantastic sporting event where you unite the world and nations meet. But so did Hitler before invading Poland, and so did Russia before invading Ukraine.

“I think it is extremely irresponsible to give it to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing.”

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Nils van der Poel of Sweden celebrates after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the men's speedskating 5,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Beijing. 

Nils van der Poel of Sweden celebrates after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the men’s speedskating 5,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, in Beijing. 
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

China has received criticism over its reported torture and repression of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. An estimated 1 million people have been confined in re-education camps in recent years, according to researchers.

Chinese government officials have denied the claims.

Ahead of the start of the Winter Olympics, human rights activists called on athletes and sponsors to speak out against what they called the “genocide games.”

“The 2022 Winter Olympics will be remembered as the genocide games,” Teng Biao, a former human rights activist in China who is now a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, said in January.

Exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India, on Feb. 3, 2021.

Exile Tibetans use the Olympic Rings as a prop as they hold a street protest against the holding of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, in Dharmsala, India, on Feb. 3, 2021.
(AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia, File)

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“The CCP’s purpose is to exactly turn the sports arena into a stage for political legitimacy and a tool to whitewash all those atrocities,” he added, referring to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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