'I really think it is terrible' - Double Winter Olympic gold medallist Nils van der Poel criticises Beijing 2022
Nils van der Poel won gold in the men's 5,000 and 10,000 metres speed skating, producing two outstanding performances. Though describing the Olympic village as "very nice", van der Poel said "it is extremely irresponsible to give it to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing."
Gold medallist Sweden's Nils Van Der Poel poses on the podium during the men's 10000m speed skating victory ceremony at the Beijing Medals Plaza in Beijing on February 12, 2022
"I really think it’s terrible, but I think I shouldn’t say too much about it, because we still have a squad in China," van der Poel told SportBladet.
"The Olympics is a lot, it’s a fantastic sporting event where you unite the world and nations meet. But so did Hitler before invading Poland, and so did Russia before invading Ukraine.
"I think it is extremely irresponsible to give it to a country that violates human rights as blatantly as the Chinese regime is doing."
Human rights groups believe that China has detained more than one million Uyghur Muslims.
'This man is gold!' - Van der Poel smashes world record in 10000m crown
A report released in June 2021 by Amnesty International accused Chinese officials of committing "crimes against humanity".
Asked if there had been discussion on such matters inside the Olympic Village, van der Poel said that most athletes are focussed on their attempts to win a medal, rather than the geopolitics surrounding the event.
"We are very focused on being athletes and we don’t talk much about world politics.
"The Olympic Village was very nice, the Chinese people I met were absolutely amazing. I had a very nice experience behind the scenes."