Three-time medalist and American-born skier Eileen Gu has faced harsh criticism for her decision to represent China on the Olympic stage, with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley saying there “is no in-between” when it comes to Olympic athletes choosing to represent certain countries.
While Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina, said she has not watched a second of the 2022 Olympics, she accused Gu of “standing for human rights abuses.”
Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2019, said during an interview with Real Clear Politics that “you’re standing for freedom or you’re standing for human rights abuses” for choosing to represent China over the United States.
“In terms of the citizenship, look, China or the U.S.? You have got to pick a side. Period,” Haley told the outlet. “You’ve got to pick a side because you’re either American or you’re Chinese, and they are two very different countries. … Every athlete needs to know when they put their flag on, you’re standing for freedom or you’re standing for human rights abuses. There is no in-between.”
Haley told Real Clear Politics that the serious human rights allegations against China should’ve been enough to convince any athlete not to put on the Chinese colors at the Games.
“I can’t get the images out of my head of people on their knees, blindfolded, knowing what’s about to happen to them,” Haley said. “I can’t imagine in any way supporting that or propping up China.”
Gu, 18, is one of the most dominant women’s freestyle skiers in the world, Yahoo Sports reports.
She was born in San Fransisco and had the choice to represent either the U.S. or China due to her mom’s Chinese citizenship. In an interview with Reuters, the young skier said China still feels like home to her.
“So I grew up spending 25-30% [of my time] in China. I’m fluent in Mandarin and English and fluent culturally in both,” Gu told Reuters. “So coming here, I really feel there was a sense of coming home. I feel just as American as Chinese. I don’t feel I’m taking advantage of one or another. They understand that my mission is to foster a connection between countries and not a divisive force.”
Yahoo reports that Gu won a trio of medals in Beijing, including gold in both the women’s halfpipe and big air competitions. Her triumphant Games made her the first-ever “action sports” athlete — freestyle skiing or freestyle snowboarding — to win three medals in a single Olympics.
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