Attending the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was a cathartic determination for Swedish Olympic speedskater Nils van der Poel.
After discovering the story of Gui Minhai, a Swedish e book writer — born in China — who was seized by Chinese authorities for criticizing the CCP, van der Poel wished to make his opposition to their authoritarianism recognized on the world stage.
When he acquired the gold medal for the ten,000-meter race, in record-breaking style, van der Poel sought to present the award to Angela Minhai, daughter of the Chinese prisoner.
As van der Poel feared the ramifications of creating a public gesture towards the CCP from inside Beijing, he determined to fulfill with Angela to present his help.
“I really see myself as the guy holding the microphone in front of Angela,” Mr. van der Poel advised The New York Times. “I just hope that human rights get to stand in the center of this.”
The medalist had met with Angela Minhai in England handy off the gold, which he hopes can stir consideration towards Gui’s story and the overrule enacted by China’s authorities.
“It’s surrealistic giving away what you fought for your entire life,” van der Poel famous about his record-breaking efficiency. “But it additionally brings much more worth to the journey — that it’s not simply me skating round in circles.
“I realize that Gui Minhai will not be set free because of this. I realize that the Chinese people will not stop suffering from oppression because of this. But I really, really believe in free speech.”
The pace skater joins athletes like Enes Kanter Freedom which have highlighted China’s violation of human rights, notably the enslavement of Uyghur Muslims within the Xinjiang area.
“But I also think a little bit of naïveté is important to try to effect change,” Angela added. “I think it’s very important that Nils giving me his medal to honor my father is understood as honoring political prisoners like him, many of whom are increasingly Hong Kongers and Uyghurs.”
Follow alongside on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela