The Swedish speedskater Nils van der Poel, who won double Olympic gold earlier this month in Beijing, has gifted one of his Olympic Gold medals to the Swedish author Gui Minhai who is imprisoned in China baselessly accused of espionage.
Media Expressen reports that Gui Minhai’s daughter Angela, who does not even know if her father is alive, has gratefully received the gold medal on his behalf.
During a press conference with Nils van der Poel, she said, “He (Niels van der Poel) has managed to do more than what the Swedish authorities have done.”
Following the donation, the speedskater is concerned for his own safety if he were to return to Southeast Asia
“My security in Southeast Asia is not stronger than what it was for Gui Minhai. He was arrested for the first time on a holiday in Thailand. It says something about the security of Swedish citizens in Southeast Asia who have a bad relationship with the Chinese regime. Now I am one of them,” van der Poel says and continues:
“It will have some consequences for my own safety and my freedom not to be able to stay where I want to in the world.”
When asked if he will ever go back to Southeast Asia, he says, “I have greater intentions to survive than to go back to Southeast Asia.”
Niels Van der Poel has taken small security measures after returning from Beijing.
“I am not a security expert and have not investigated deep enough. But I changed my phone and SIM card when I came home from China, I changed passwords on important platforms. But other than that, I have not taken any major action,” he says.
In the future, the speedskater hopes that more athletes will dare to take a stand and that major sporting events will not be held in dictatorships.
“It is not up to the athlete to solve such issues, but I hope that athletes, in general, do dare to stand up for something. Then I hope that sports washing gets more attention. Sport is not more important than human rights. It is not possible to arrange an Olympics and at the same time oppress minorities. It is not possible to pretend to be able to change a country from within.