According to Reuters, Swedish speed skater Nils van der Poel donated one of his two gold medals to human rights activist Gui Minhai. In 2020, he was sentenced to 10 years in a Chinese prison for so-called “illegally providing intelligence overseas.”
Gui was born in China but holds Swedish citizenship. Before being caught, Gui lived in Hong Kong and sold books that criticized Chinese leaders.
In the Winter Olympic 2022, Swedish speed skater Nils van der Poel won the gold medal in the 5,000 m and got another gold medal after breaking the world record in the 10,000 m.
On Thursday, Feb. 24, Poel gave his medal to Angela Gui, Gui Minhai’s daughter, and called for his release.
Poel told Amnesty International, “I wish for the human rights issues in China to improve and for Gui Minhai to be set free. It’s a lot to ask but it is the only reasonable thing to ask”.
Since returning from Beijing, Poel has repeatedly criticized China for hosting the Games. He posted on his Instagram, “There are matters in this world of far greater importance than sports.”
He continued: “I hope this can be a glimpse of hope for solidarity in this dark hour.”
Poel also said that the Chinese government used the Winter Olympic 2020 to whitewash human rights issues.
“I am not the voice of all Olympians, but me and my friends dedicated our lives to strive for excellence within sports, and the Chinese government chose to use our dreams as a political weapon to legitimize their regime. To me that was personal, and I felt exploited”.
Angela Gui, Gui Minhai’s daughter, upon receiving the medal from Poel, posted on her social media, “I accepted his medal on my father’s behalf. I think he’d feel beyond honored if he knew”.
Angela Gui also told Amnesty International:
“I would of course have preferred a situation in which doing this wasn’t necessary in the first place. But it feels important to me that this medal represents solidarity with political prisoners like my father, and the countless other victims of Beijing’s human rights violations.”