Chinese netizens are cheering the decision of a talented Chinese American skier to compete for China instead of the United States in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
According to the International Ski Federation, 15-year-old Eileen Gu officially changed her national affiliation from American to Chinese this month.
Gu, born to an American father and Chinese mother in San Francisco, can speak fluent Mandarin with an authentic Beijing accent, CGTN reported.
Gu first learned to ski at age three and won her first national skiing tournament at age nine.
Since she began competing internationally during the 2017-2018 season, Gu has so far represented the U.S. in the three World Cup stops, winning one gold and one silver medal.
She took to Instagram last week to announce her “incredibly tough” decision to join China’s team. In her post, she noted that she hopes to inspire young girls to take up sports and somehow evoke friendship between nations.
Netizens on Chinese social media platform Weibo cheered the news of Gu’s “return” to China, reports Inkstone.
“Welcome you to fight for the honor of China!” one of the highest-voted comments read.
“Hope more sons and daughters of China come back to the arms of their homeland!” another commenter chimed in.
Based on the Olympic Charter, athletes with dual citizenship such as Gu can choose which country to represent. If they have competed in the Olympics before, they are then required to wait three years before they can represent a new country in the games.
However, since Chinese law doesn’t recognize dual nationality, Gu is expected to drop her American nationality. The reports did not indicate what arrangement Gu has made regarding her status as a U.S. citizen.
“I feel that I am competing in skiing to unite two nations, both of which are my home,” Gu was quoted as saying. “I hope to break the divide between nations through passion and love.”
Gu further noted that she is still going to continue living and training in the U.S. while also attending school there. She plans to visit China during summer breaks and for competitions.