Jan 10, 2022 - Sports

U.S. skater Timothy LeDuc calls human rights abuses in China "horrifying"

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc
Timothy LeDuc and Ashley Cain-Gribble at the Championship Pairs Free Skate in January.

U.S. Olympic pairs skater Timothy LeDuc called Chinese human rights abuses toward Uyghur Muslims "horrifying," USA Today reports.

Why it matters: A number of countries, including the U.S., have announced diplomatic boycotts of next month's Beijing Winter Games. Many athletes however, have "tiptoed around" commenting on the human rights abuses committed by China's government, USA Today notes.

  • The U.S. determined in 2021 China's campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constituted "genocide" and "crimes against humanity," per Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahemin.

What they're saying: "What I can say is we absolutely acknowledge the horrifying things that we've seen happening to the Uyghurs. I read somewhere the other day that it's the largest number of people held in internment and labor camps since World War II," LeDuc said at a press conference.

  • "I mean, these are horrifying human rights abuses that we're seeing happening. And it can feel very powerless when you read those things, because you think, 'What can I do," they added.
  • LeDuc said they also believe they see "human rights being violated here, in my country" specifically around trans rights and the right to an abortion.
  • "So that's kind of how I think of it. I feel powerless sometimes, seeing the situation in China. I can use my voice here, yes," they said. "But what I can do here to defend human rights is be sure that I am vigilant and vote for the people in my local communities and state and local elections to defend human rights here as well."

Of note: LeDuc is set to become the first openly non-binary person to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.

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