Good sportsmanship

A basketball referee is alleged to be on the take. A star quarterback is alleged to be mixed up in dog fighting. The Tour de France is awash in performance enhancing drugs. And baseball most hallowed record will soon be held by a cheater. But, there’s good news from the world of sports, courtesy of Olympic speed skating medalist Joey Cheek, who challanged the Chinese government over its support to the genocidal regime in Sudan.

The Voice of America reports:

With dozens of onlookers gathered around, Olympic speed skater Joey Cheek rang the buzzer at the main door to China’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

“My name is Joey Cheek. I am on the U.S. Olympic team. And I am here to deliver petitions that we have collected over the last week imploring China to continue to act strongly to protect the civilians in Darfur,” said Cheek.

Cheek, a gold and silver medalist who last year donated his Olympic bonus money to aid refugees in Darfur, clutched two thick binders containing petitions urging China to pressure Sudan to honor commitments to allow a hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force into Darfur.

Only Cheek was allowed inside the embassy, after a half-hour wait at the door. He reemerged moments later, saying embassy officials received the petitions and reacted positively to his idea of organizing a joint visit by U.S. and Chinese athletes to Darfur.

Speaking with reporters, Cheek said China, which has invested heavily in Sudan, has great leverage over Khartoum and should be urged to use that leverage to maximum effect when it comes to Darfur.

“We acknowledge the role that China has played up to this point in diplomacy and behind the scenes in trying to move forward on the hybrid peacekeeping force [for Darfur],” he said. “However, now, seven months later, people are still dying. The aid groups have decreased their presence on the ground from last year. And it appears that, financially, the connection [between Bejing and Khartoum] is only stronger.”

There’s more here.And here. And if you get the NewYork Times, there is an excellent column about Cheek’s visit to the Chinese embassy by Harvey Araton, but we can’t link to it.

Cheek also supports the excellent organization Right to Play (Hat tip: Ben Naughton), as do a host of other internationally recognized athletes. You can learn more about Right to Play here.

Past Posts