British freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy does not feel the IOC’s “heart is in the right place”, he said Saturday, as he bowed out of the Olympics for good by accusing the governing body of “greed”.
Kenworthy, a silver medallist in 2014 for the USA before switching allegiance, has been a fierce critic of the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award China the Winter Olympics because of its “appalling” human rights record.
He told AFP earlier this week that he has been trying to “tread lightly” while he is in China.
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But the 30-year-old did not hold back after competing in Saturday’s halfpipe final — his last event before retiring.
“It was never that I thought China couldn’t put on a good Games — I absolutely knew that they could and they have,” he said.
“But when there are human rights atrocities happening in the country and a poor stance on LGBTQ rights, then those things need to be taken into consideration by the IOC.”
Kenworthy came out as gay shortly after winning silver in slopestyle at the Sochi Games, and he has been an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights at the Olympics.
He said he would like to see the IOC take a more proactive approach in helping “marginalised and disenfranchised people”.
“Because it’s the world stage and everybody’s watching, there is an opportunity to create positive change and the IOC could help dictate that change by pushing on certain issues,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t like the Olympics — I do, I just think that it could even be better.”
Kenworthy switched allegiance to Britain from the United States in late 2019. He finished eighth in a halfpipe final that took place in strong winds and freezing conditions, and fell heavily on his second run.
Kenworthy said organisers did not engage athletes in “a discussion about postponing or waiting or anything”.
“I think that sometimes it doesn’t feel like their heart’s in the right place — it feels like it’s a greed game,” the 30-year-old said of the IOC.
“The Olympics is so incredible but it’s a TV show, and you really saw that today. I know that we’re one of the last events of the Games so there wasn’t much that they could have done to postpone us but it was gnarly today.”