American-born-and-raised Olympic skier Eileen Gu reportedly gave up her American passport and was naturalized as a Chinese citizen to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics for communist China, new reports highlighted last week.
After growing up and training in the United States and competing as a member of the U.S. freestyle ski team, Gu revealed on Instagram in 2019 that she had decided to compete for China in the Beijing Winter Olympics.
“This was an incredibly tough decision for me to make,” Gu wrote at the time, according to a The Wall Street Journal report last week. Gu, whose mother was born in China, said she hoped the controversial move would “inspire millions of young people where my mom was born.” Gu added that she wanted to “unite people, promote common understanding, create communication, and forge friendships between nations.”
China doesn’t recognize dual citizenships, and Red Bull, which sponsors Gu, said on its website that “US-born Gu decided to give up her American passport and naturalize as a Chinese citizen in order to compete for China in Beijing—because Chinese law doesn’t recognize dual nationality.”
Red Bull removed the passage from its website, however, after The Wall Street Journal reached out to the company for comment.
Gu has previously said, “When I’m in the U.S., I’m American. When I’m in China, I’m Chinese.”
Her decision to compete for China comes at a time when dozens of nations have condemned China’s Communist Party for committing abhorrent human rights violations against its own citizens, including slave labor, forced sterilization and abortion, and genocide.
In 2019, Gu appeared at an event in China wearing the Team China uniform and standing just feet from the Chinese Communist Party’s leader, President Xi Jinping. She appeared to be listening intently as Xi urged Gu and other athletes to win in the Beijing Olympics in order to honor China.
“This is a once-in-a-century opportunity,” Xi said at the time, adding that their success was critical to “the nation’s great rejuvenation.”
“It is of great significance to be able to participate in the Winter Olympic Games, especially in the city where my mother was born and the city I have been to every summer since I was two years old,” Gu told China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency last year. “On a personal level, it is even more meaningful to me. It is a great honor for me to represent China in the competition!”
Ahead of the start of the Beijing Olympics last week, other American skiers expressed discontent with Gu’s decision to compete for China.
“It is not my place to judge, but Eileen is from California, not from China, and her decision [to ski for China] seems opportunistic,” Jen Hudak, a former Winter X Games gold medalist for the USA women’s team, told the New York Post. “I can’t speak to what Eileen’s Chinese heritage means to her and she has every right to do what she believes is best for her career.”
Hudak added that Gu “became the athlete she is because she grew up in the United States, where she had access to premier training grounds and coaching that, as a female, she might not have had in China.”
“I think she would be a different skier if she grew up in China,” she continued. “This makes me sad. It would be nice to see the medals going to America.”