Joey Cheek, an Olympic gold medalist for speed skating, is being shut out of China after authorities revoked his visa because of his activism surrounding the ethnic-driven clash in the Darfur region of Sudan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called on President Bush to step in and intervene on behalf of Cheek, who was denied the visa just hours before his scheduled departure. Cheek is president and co-founder of a group of Olympic athletes called Team Darfur, which has worked to pressure the Chinese government, which buys 70 percent of Sudanese oil, to pressure Khartoum to do more to stop the violence in Darfur.
“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,” Pelosi said in a statement. “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… . 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.”