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8 Feb, 2022 13:37

China Olympic champ hits back at Tucker Carlson ‘dumb’ jibes

Eileen Gu has called her critics 'uneducated' after the conservative host was among those to savage her switch from Team USA to China
China Olympic champ hits back at Tucker Carlson ‘dumb’ jibes

Chinese-American Winter Olympics skiing champion Eileen Gu has insisted she will not "waste my time" on accusations of treachery about her switch from Team USA to China, calling her critics "uneducated" after a first triumph at a Beijing Games appearance that has been scorned by commentators including Tucker Carlson.

Poster girl Gu stormed to a dramatic big air victory at her first Winter Olympics since swapping teams as a 15-year-old in 2019 – a move that has given her cross-cultural appeal and made her a huge draw for sponsors in the US and China.

The 18-year-old has also endured criticism from some who feel that she betrayed the country of her birth, where she trained from a young age, and made an ill-chosen move to a nation that is frequently accused of human rights abuses, including from US president Joe Biden's administration.

Despite her immense online popularity, a significant number of detractors have continued targeting Gu since her win, with some accounts issuing poisonous messages and threats towards the California-raised prodigy who has a Chinese mother and grandparents.

Gu has not confirmed whether she changed citizenship to compete for China, although some reports have said that she would have done so in order to be allowed to compete for her team.

Conservative host Tucker Carlson did not hold back when he spoke to Will Cain, who has called Gu a "tool for a genocidal, communist, human rights abuser" and said that China is part of "asymmetric warfare with America", about the change of allegiance.

"This girl’s 18," he said on a Fox broadcast. "You know, you make dumb decisions: you get stupid tattoos, you renounce your citizenship to go to China, whatever.

"You know, young people do dumb things. But there should be collective revulsion as we watch this. We shouldn’t make it easy for people to betray their own country, should we?”

Cain emphatically agreed. "I think the only word we can arrive at is ungrateful for her to betray, turn her back on the country that not just raised her, but turned her into a world-class skier with the training and facilities that only the United States of America can provide," the opponent of "wokesters" argued.

"For her to then turn her back on that in exchange for money is shameful. It’s ungrateful, like a child that says 'I’m out of here. I’m moving somewhere else’ after being raised in a warm home."

The heavily-followed broadcaster made a number of claims about "something much bigger" than Gu, accusing one of her Chinese sponsors of using forced labor and saying that the situation pointed to the "inherent immorality of capitalism devoid from a moral, principled grounding."

"There are very few American companies that wouldn’t and haven’t already done the same thing as Eileen Gu," he added.

"They’ve already turned their back on the United States of America in exchange for Chinese riches and that’s why she’s a symbol.

"You want to look at something to be really upset about, it’s not the ungrateful child of America – it’s the corrupt and weak corporations of America.”

Halfpipe and slopestyle world champion Gu dismissed those suggestions and said she is only focused on sport and being a role model.

"I want to break boundaries for girls – they can think as long as Eileen can do it, they can also do it," she said after landing a four-and-a-half-turn trick for the first time to move from third to first on her final jump.

"No matter if I land that trick, I win because the whole world can see my spirit. I'm not trying to keep everyone happy; I'm an 18-year-old here living my best life.

"It doesn’t matter if other people are happy or not. I'm enjoying the entire process and I am using my voice to create enough positive change for the voices who will listen to me in an area that is personal and relevant to myself.

"I know I have a good heart and I know my reasons for making the decisions I do – they are based on a greater common interest and something that I feel like is for the greater good.

"And so if other people don't believe that is where I am coming from, that just reflects they do not have the empathy to empathize with a good heart - perhaps because they don’t share the same kind of morals that I do.

"I'm not going to waste my time trying to placate people who are one uneducated and two, they are not going to experience the gratitude and love I have the great fortune to experience on a daily basis.

"If they don't believe me, and if people don’t like me, that is their loss: they are never going to win the Olympics."

That seems unlikely to win over Cain, who even drew parallels with the alleged state coercion faced by Peng Shuai, the tennis star who appeared to make swiftly-deleted claims of sexual abuse against a key Chinese Communist Party member.

"She will soon, I suspect, come to regret it," he warned. "I mean, take a look at the Chinese tennis player who dared to speak out about sexual harassment and then mysteriously disappeared.

"Eileen Gu, I think, has had to sacrifice her American passport, so welcome to China.

"I hope stardom and the riches that you have earned through betraying America are all worth it because you have definitely sold out.”

Gu could capture a hat-trick of medals in the slopestyle and halfpipe competitions at the Games, which continue until February 20 2022.