Is Olympic Star Eileen Gu Guilty of Betraying America?

Commentary For decades, athletes from around the world have desperately attempted to use the Olympics as an opportunity to defect from their countries of birth. For example, at the Tokyo Olympics last year, weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, a Ugandan national, used the event to try to escape his country of birth. According to Opportunity International, 41 percent of Ugandan people live on less than $1.90 a day. Uganda is also home to more than 1 million refugees, by far the largest refugee population in Africa. What’s my point? Ssekitoleko was trying to flee a country that was, and still is, plagued by pain, poverty, and pestilence. But what about someone like Eileen Gu? She’s not from Uganda. She’s from the United States. Born in San Francisco, Gu has a Chinese mother and an American father. By all accounts, the United States has offered the teenager a good life. Why, then, would she choose to represent China, a country that offers very few of its citizens a good life? Of course, Gu is not the only American representing China. However, she is—by some distance—the most notable one. Maybe it has something to do with money? Maybe, just maybe, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has rewarded Gu, the youngest freestyle skiing gold medalist in history, with inordinate amounts of cash. Then again, maybe not. According to a recent Forbes report, compared with China, the United States is far more likely to compensate its athletes for winning gold. In fact, based on Forbes’ reporting, the United States pays “more than twice as much for gold as countries like Australia and Canada.” Oddly enough, France and Romania pay twice as much as the United States. Other countries like Slovakia, for example, offer “roughly $56,000 for a gold medal in an individual sport and an average of roughly $17,000 for each member of a gold-medal-winning team.” Nevertheless, the United States appears to offer far greater financial rewards to its athletes than China—a fact that shouldn’t surprise readers with any knowledge of the CCP. However, other incentives besides money exist. As the journalist Justin Thompson Gee has noted, it’s not just always about that “cold, hard cash.” A decade ago, an athlete by the name of Keshorn Walcott represented Trinidad and Tobago at the London Olympics. By throwing a javelin 84.58 meters, Walcott claimed a gold medal and set a new world record. By claiming the country’s second gold medal in history, Walcott was treated to a hero’s welcome when he arrived home. As Gee noted, the “government declared the day of his arrival a national holiday and named a lighthouse as well as an airplane after him.” He was also given a luxurious flat and 20,000 square feet of high-quality land. Ailing Eileen Gu of Team China performs a trick ahead of the women’s freestyle skiing big air finals on day 4 of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Big Air Shougang in Beijing, China, on Feb. 8, 2022. (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) When Gu claimed gold for China, she almost broke the internet. She was lavished with praise by both Chinese citizens and the CCP. Would she have received the same praise if she had won gold representing the United States? Perhaps. In truth, we will never know. Like the above-mentioned government in Trinidad and Tobago, it’s possible that the CCP rewarded Gu in a different manner. After the 2012 London Games, as China Daily reported at the time, two swimmers, Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen, both of whom picked up gold medals, were awarded with brand new, state-of-the-art apartments. Then again, maybe Gu is not in it for the money or the free apartments. Maybe she simply has a deep love for China, a deeper love than she has for the United States. In an interview with The Economist, she insisted her controversial move to Team China should be viewed as “a kind of love story.” A twisted love story, some might argue. Nevertheless, Gu is adamant that the move has the potential to “heal the rift” between the two countries. How so? By “bringing her sport and her inspiring story to the Chinese masses, especially young girls.” For those of you reading this who believe that Gu’s move was a political act, she insists that the switching of the flag “next to her name wasn’t meant to be a political act.” No, it was very much a “personal choice.” Moreover, her “decision hasn’t changed her identity or her peripatetic life.” After all, she still lives in the United States. Gu, it seems, is having the best of both worlds. Living both the Chinese dream (if such a thing is possible) as well as the American one. She feels that she is “competing in skiing to unite two nations, both of which are my home.” She hopes “to break the divide between nations with passion and love.” Call me a miserable pessimist, but one imagines that it will take a little more than the idealistic musings of a teenager to unite China and the United States. Has Gu betrayed the United States? I’ll let you decide. But as you can see from the above co

Is Olympic Star Eileen Gu Guilty of Betraying America?

Commentary

For decades, athletes from around the world have desperately attempted to use the Olympics as an opportunity to defect from their countries of birth.

For example, at the Tokyo Olympics last year, weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, a Ugandan national, used the event to try to escape his country of birth. According to Opportunity International, 41 percent of Ugandan people live on less than $1.90 a day. Uganda is also home to more than 1 million refugees, by far the largest refugee population in Africa.

What’s my point?

Ssekitoleko was trying to flee a country that was, and still is, plagued by pain, poverty, and pestilence.

But what about someone like Eileen Gu? She’s not from Uganda. She’s from the United States. Born in San Francisco, Gu has a Chinese mother and an American father. By all accounts, the United States has offered the teenager a good life. Why, then, would she choose to represent China, a country that offers very few of its citizens a good life? Of course, Gu is not the only American representing China. However, she is—by some distance—the most notable one.

Maybe it has something to do with money? Maybe, just maybe, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has rewarded Gu, the youngest freestyle skiing gold medalist in history, with inordinate amounts of cash. Then again, maybe not.

According to a recent Forbes report, compared with China, the United States is far more likely to compensate its athletes for winning gold. In fact, based on Forbes’ reporting, the United States pays “more than twice as much for gold as countries like Australia and Canada.” Oddly enough, France and Romania pay twice as much as the United States. Other countries like Slovakia, for example, offer “roughly $56,000 for a gold medal in an individual sport and an average of roughly $17,000 for each member of a gold-medal-winning team.” Nevertheless, the United States appears to offer far greater financial rewards to its athletes than China—a fact that shouldn’t surprise readers with any knowledge of the CCP.

However, other incentives besides money exist. As the journalist Justin Thompson Gee has noted, it’s not just always about that “cold, hard cash.”

A decade ago, an athlete by the name of Keshorn Walcott represented Trinidad and Tobago at the London Olympics. By throwing a javelin 84.58 meters, Walcott claimed a gold medal and set a new world record. By claiming the country’s second gold medal in history, Walcott was treated to a hero’s welcome when he arrived home. As Gee noted, the “government declared the day of his arrival a national holiday and named a lighthouse as well as an airplane after him.” He was also given a luxurious flat and 20,000 square feet of high-quality land.

Freestyle Skiing - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 4
Ailing Eileen Gu of Team China performs a trick ahead of the women’s freestyle skiing big air finals on day 4 of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Big Air Shougang in Beijing, China, on Feb. 8, 2022. (Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

When Gu claimed gold for China, she almost broke the internet. She was lavished with praise by both Chinese citizens and the CCP. Would she have received the same praise if she had won gold representing the United States? Perhaps. In truth, we will never know.

Like the above-mentioned government in Trinidad and Tobago, it’s possible that the CCP rewarded Gu in a different manner. After the 2012 London Games, as China Daily reported at the time, two swimmers, Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen, both of whom picked up gold medals, were awarded with brand new, state-of-the-art apartments.

Then again, maybe Gu is not in it for the money or the free apartments. Maybe she simply has a deep love for China, a deeper love than she has for the United States.

In an interview with The Economist, she insisted her controversial move to Team China should be viewed as “a kind of love story.” A twisted love story, some might argue. Nevertheless, Gu is adamant that the move has the potential to “heal the rift” between the two countries.

How so?

By “bringing her sport and her inspiring story to the Chinese masses, especially young girls.” For those of you reading this who believe that Gu’s move was a political act, she insists that the switching of the flag “next to her name wasn’t meant to be a political act.” No, it was very much a “personal choice.”

Moreover, her “decision hasn’t changed her identity or her peripatetic life.” After all, she still lives in the United States. Gu, it seems, is having the best of both worlds. Living both the Chinese dream (if such a thing is possible) as well as the American one. She feels that she is “competing in skiing to unite two nations, both of which are my home.” She hopes “to break the divide between nations with passion and love.”

Call me a miserable pessimist, but one imagines that it will take a little more than the idealistic musings of a teenager to unite China and the United States.

Has Gu betrayed the United States? I’ll let you decide. But as you can see from the above comments, she doesn’t appear to think so. In fact, according to her, she’s doing the United States (as well as China) a favor. Should we thank Gu for her service? Again, dear reader, I’ll let you answer this rather provocative question.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.