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Mikaela Shiffrin of Edwards, who’s back in action this weekend with World Cup tech races in Jasna, Slovakia, told CNN it’s “a real bummer” because there’s “legitimate proof” of human rights abuses in countries hosting the last several Winter Olympics.
Shiffrin, 25 and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Sochi, Russia, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, was asked about growing calls for the United States to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics after the U.S. government accused China of genocide in the predominantly Muslim western part of the country, where the Uyghur people have been forced into reeducation camps.
“What’s a real bummer is that there’s not only accusations but, like, legitimate proof in a lot of these places we’ve been going the last several Olympics,” Shiffrin told CNN’s Christina Macfarlane. “One of the important things about the Olympics is that it is supposed to be a global event, not just in your sort of mainstream sporting countries, but it’s supposed to be global.”
After the $50 billion Sochi Games in 2014, Russia invaded the Crimea and has engaged in an enduring campaign of dissident crackdowns, including the poisoning of opposition leaders. China’s Xinjiang region, home to the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, is thousands of miles from icy Olympic venues near Beijing, but some say it may be the birthplace of skiing.
“I do understand the importance of trying to stay true to that [Olympic global] pledge, essentially. But it is tough, to be honest,” Shiffrin told CNN. “The Olympics is big, and it’s something that you shoot for, and you don’t want to miss it.
“And you certainly don’t want to be put in the position of having to choose between human rights like morality versus being able to do your job, which on the other hand can bring light to some issues or can actually bring hope to the world at a very difficult time.”
Shiffrin, who is second on the all-time women’s World Cup victory list behind only former Vail resident Lindsey Vonn (68 to 82) is coming off a modern record-tying four medals at the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which will host the 2026 Winter Olympics.