Timothy LeDuc, a member of one of Team USA’s figure skating pairs teams set to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing next month, recently spoke out about China’s “horrifying” human rights violations.
In an interview hours after they were named part of Team USA on Sunday, LeDuc was asked a question about the alleged human rights violations in China. They admitted it to be a “really hard question” with “no simple answer,” according to USA Today.
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“What I can say is we absolutely acknowledge the horrifying things that we’ve seen happening to the Uyghurs,” they said. “I read somewhere the other day that it’s the largest number of people held in internment and labor camps since World War II. 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?'”
Partnered with Ashley Cain-Gribble, LeDuc will become the first-ever publicly out non-binary athlete to compete at a Winter Olympic Games. LeDuc was recently named the first publicly out non-binary athlete to win a U.S. Championships event, according to NBC Sports.
LeDuc is one of the most recent athletes who has called out China’s alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghurs. Last November, Boston Celtics’ player Enes Kanter Freedom called Chinese President Xi Jinping an “insecure tyrant” and called for the boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. American leaders expressed concern over the safety of U.S. Winter Olympics athletes in Beijing in late November amid the Uyghur genocide accusations and the international call for an investigation of tennis star Peng Shuai’s sudden disappearance and reappearance. The following month, U.S. officials announced they would boycott the Winter Olympic Games, citing alleged human rights “atrocities” as the reason, NextShark previously reported.
LeDuc has claimed that the U.S. has also committed some human rights violations, particularly involving the country’s healthcare system and trans community.
“I believe abortion is healthcare, and access to abortion is a human right,” they said. “And I see those rights under attack, in this country, and that’s something we have control over here.”
“So often, state and local governments are the ones who are restricting those rights, and we all have a responsibility and the ability to vote in those elections, and elect people who are going to protect those human rights,” they added. “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. 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.”
The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will hold its opening ceremony on Feb. 4 and run until Feb. 20.
Featured Image via U.S. Figure Skating