Winter Olympics: China ‘not well suited’ to host Games, says Team GB freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy


British freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy says China is “not well suited” to host the Winter Olympics due to its reported human rights abuses.

The International Olympic Committee has been criticised for awarding the Games to China due to the nation’s therapy of its ethnic minorities.

The World Uyghur Congress has described the occasion as “a genocide Olympics”.

Kenworthy mentioned the IOC “shouldn’t grant” the Games to international locations with “appalling” human rights data.

“I believe the IOC ought to take a stance towards a variety of these atrocities and rise up for vital points, and by not granting these international locations the best to host the Games they might create optimistic change in these locations – possibly not even letting them compete,” the 30-year-old instructed BBC Sport.

“I do know the Olympics are so vital to China and they’re all the time so excessive up within the medal rely, that I really feel like by really taking a stance towards them in an actual tangible manner you might in all probability make some optimistic change.

“It’s all about cash, it looks as if. I do not actually assume they’re well suited to host the Games.”

Human rights teams say the Chinese authorities has regularly stripped away the spiritual and different freedoms of the Uighurs – a Muslim minority group dwelling principally within the Xinjiang province in north-west China – culminating in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination and even pressured sterilisation.

China has persistently denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, insisting camps weren’t detention camps, however “vocational instructional and coaching centres”.

Kenworthy, who switched allegiance from the United States to Great Britain in 2019, mentioned he plans to “converse up” for what he believes in and can use his “voice and platform to rise up for these beliefs”.

However, he believes the deliberate diplomatic boycotts by the UK, US, Canada and Australia, amongst different international locations, will make little distinction.

“I believe that it comes down to the IOC not granting these international locations the best to host, and even to compete,” Kenworthy mentioned.

“Yes, that additionally would have an effect on the athletes, however then it might be up to these international locations to then implement change so as to have their athletes competing.”

Kenworthy mentioned he does worry a backlash to his feedback, however added: “I’ve all the time been somebody that is a agency believer in talking up for what you do imagine in and utilizing your voice.

“I believe when you might have a platform, you are anticipated to use your voice in a fair larger manner as a result of you might have a manner to amplify a message.

“I do not even need to try to converse out towards China or tackle China or something, I really feel like I’m extra directing my messages on the IOC. I do not assume that the IOC ought to grant these international locations the best to host if they’ve human rights points, if there’s genocide occurring within the nation, if they’ve stances towards the LGBTQ group.

“You should not get to host the Games, sorry.”

In a press release to BBC Sport, the IOC mentioned: “The IOC has neither the mandate nor the potential to change the legal guidelines or the political system of a sovereign nation. This should rightfully stay the legit position of governments and respective intergovernmental organisations.

“The Olympic Games are the one occasion that brings all the world collectively in peaceable competitors. They are probably the most highly effective image of unity in all our variety that the world is aware of. In our fragile world, the facility of sport to convey the entire world collectively, regardless of all the prevailing variations, provides us all hope for a greater future.

“Given the various participation within the Olympic Games, the IOC should stay impartial on all world political points.”

The ‘bumpy’ highway to Beijing

Gus Kenworthy competing in the freestyle skiing halfpipe
Gus Kenworthy has competed in each the halfpipe and slopestyle occasions

While representing the US, Kenworthy gained slopestyle silver on the Sochi 2014 Olympics, however positioned twelfth 4 years later in Pyeongchang.

In the years since, enormous ups and downs have come his manner, together with knockouts, knee surgical procedure, Covid-19 and concussions.

“My coach and I’ve been joking as a result of we have had various setbacks within the lead-up to this Olympics,” he mentioned.

“It has felt prefer it’s been one factor after one other and we have saved joking ‘it is simply one other bump within the highway’.

“We had been laughing about how bumpy this highway is and the way a lot it wants to be paved.”

In late 2021, after having Covid and one other concussion, the newest bump got here his manner within the type of the ‘twisties’ – the time period for an athlete shedding their sense of house and dimension when within the air, made well-known by US gymnast Simone Biles ultimately summer time’s Tokyo Olympics.

Kenworthy spent two months off the snow, solely returning in early January – a month out from the beginning of the Beijing Games.

“It was like an ideal storm. I had acquired this actually unhealthy concussion, after which acquired Covid proper on the tail finish of recovering from the concussion, and after my isolation getting again into the gymnasium and making an attempt to get again to coaching, I simply wasn’t actually ready to do something,” he mentioned.

“I used to be experiencing all types of bizarre neurological points – I used to be nauseous, I used to be light-headed, I used to be dizzy. I used to be actually undecided if it was due to Covid, or due to the concussion, as a result of they so shortly coincided. Even the medical doctors could not actually inform.

“I got here out to Colorado for the primary two World Cups of the season and had a run the place I acquired the twisties, or simply acquired misplaced within the air.

“It’s a really scary feeling – it is like vertigo when you do not know which manner is up and which manner is down. But when the extent of using is the place it’s and that creates that vast margin of error, you don’t need to not know the place you’re.”

Beijing can be Kenworthy’s final Olympics, and final competitors earlier than he retires from the game.

Also an actor who has appeared in American Horror Story and visitor starred on RuPaul’s Drag Race, he doesn’t know what his future holds, however is decided to go away snowboarding behind in fashion.

“I might identical to to land one of the best run that I probably can, one of the best ways I probably can, make it via to the finals and put down a run that I’m actually, actually proud of,” he mentioned.

“It’s going to be my final competitors, so I need to stroll away with my head held excessive and know that I gave it all the things.

“If that finally ends up with a gold medal, or a bronze medal or no medal, I simply need to know that I did all the things I might.”

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