Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement after the Chinese government revoked a visa for Olympic gold medalist and Team Darfur co-founder Joey Cheek:
“The Chinese government's decision to bar Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek from attending the Olympics because of his advocacy for Darfur is reprehensible. This action by Beijing's leaders is part of an orchestrated campaign to deny entry to individuals because of their political views, beliefs, writings, association, religion, and ethnicity.
“In the coming days, President Bush will arrive in Beijing. I call on President Bush to secure the entry of Joey Cheek and other U.S. citizens who have been barred from attending the Olympics because of their beliefs, advocacy for the people of Darfur and human rights in China and Tibet. It is essential that President Bush show leadership in promoting democracy, freedom, and human rights during his visit to China.
“The Olympic Charter states that ‘Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender, or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.' The International Olympic Committee is tolerating clear violations of both the Olympic ideals and the commitments the Chinese government made in order to host the Olympic Games.
“Like many Americans, I recall when Joey Cheek won the Gold Medal in 2006 and donated his prize to the children of Darfur. Joey is a magnificent athlete and an optimistic young man, and is to be commended for his advocacy and humanitarianism for the people in Darfur. It is simply wrong for him to be banned from attending the Olympic Games.”