With two gold medals, Nils van der Poel was one of the figures at the Winter Games. He is now giving one of those medals to the daughter of Gui Minhai, a Swedish writer imprisoned in China. A symbolic act, but a steely statement.
When Van der Poel was on the podium to receive his gold medal, he already had a secret plan. The Swedish skater will use the medal as a symbol to denounce the Chinese system. This plan is now a reality.
The Olympic speed skating champion handed his medal to the daughter of Gui Minhai, a Swedish writer of Chinese descent who is serving a prison sentence in China.
“I want the violation of human rights in China to end,” he said. “In addition, I also pray for Gui Minhai’s release. I know I’m asking too much, but it’s the only thing I want.”
I feel offended by the Chinese government.
The Swedish writer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally providing information to other countries, according to the Chinese regime. He lived in Hong Kong, where he wrote books critical of China’s political leaders.
Van der Poel won gold in the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters in Beijing. He presented the medal at a small ceremony in Cambridge and again took the opportunity to criticize the organization of the Winter Games in Beijing.
“I don’t speak for all athletes, but we strive for the top all our lives. The Chinese government is abusing our dreams to legitimize their political system. I feel offended.”
Angela Gui, daughter of prisoner Minhai Gui, is happy to receive the medal. “I hope this is not necessary, but it is good that the medal can symbolize solidarity with political prisoners like my father.”
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